Small Wonders: Local artist grows a world in a bottle

written by: Megan Skuster        photos by: Adam Finkle

Stepping into the home of artist Jodi Mardesich Smith—who sells her work under the name Jyotimedia—is like entering a secret greenhouse. Potted plants adorn the shelves, mosses and air plants hang from the ceiling, greenery blooms in the windows and spills out of the top of jars of all shapes and sizes. Terrariums crowd the surface of every table, each one a unique, miniature world. Empty containers—everything from antique bottles to hollowed-out doll heads—are ready to be transformed into her next masterpiece.

Sunlight streams through the windows of her studio in the back of the house, and a humidifier churns out steam, keeping the plants happy and healthy. There’s a calm that comes from being around nature, transforming an ordinary house into an oasis.

“I’m just fascinated with plants,” said Smith. “We wouldn’t have life without them, we could not exist without plants. So I sort of worship them in a way.”

Smith started building terrariums seven years ago, after her husband bought a craft kit to build together as part of a date night before they were married. She was hooked, and her passion bloomed along with the plants.

Though it takes artistic talent to create her products, Smith doesn’t consider herself an artist in the traditional sense. Rather, she believes she is a caretaker and an observer of plants, and her work is never finished.

“It’s not like a painting or a photograph where it’s done and you can just appreciate it and look at it once in awhile. It’s more of a relationship, and they need care,” Smith says.

Smith has learned a lot about the plants she works with and the world in general throughher art. She collects plants from around the globe—plants from the Uinta mountains and mosses from Japan and Spain—in order to diversify her projects.

“I like imagining where they live and then trying to make a little microclimate like that for them,” she says.

Terraria are different from typical potted plants because the jars create a kind of greenhouse effect, and the plants recycle some of their own water. Finding and maintaining the right balance of moisture, sunlight and temperature is key to keeping a terrarium healthy, Smith explains.

She hopes that her creations will foster a relationship between humans and nature.

“It’s a movement. It’s this hope that other people will get an understanding of the beauty of nature and the importance of nature to our lives and cultivate that,” she says.

Smith’s work is available for purchase at Iconoclad, Thyme and Place and J GO Gallery in Park City. She also holds monthly workshops, teaching clients how to make their own terrariums.

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