Though Jane Mannetter, better known as Zaney Janey of De-vine Designz, took a somewhat unusual path to becoming an artist, each step of that journey has informed the creations she’s become known for.
She first earned the name Zaney Janey working as an activity director for party-planning company It’s Your Party in Madison, Wis. She began providing face painting at birthday parties before branching into field games at corporate events. From there, she discovered the ancient practice of creating temporary tattoos with dye derived from the henna plant.
“I saw somebody about 15 years ago at an event, and I was amazed, so I asked, ‘What is that? It’s cool!’ ” Mannetter says. “I’ve definitely learned a lot now, even though I wouldn’t have considered myself very artistic.”
Though she had heard of dyeing hair with henna, it took plenty of exploring book stores and experimentation to understand what the art form was really about.
“I always have people say, ‘You’re so artistic,’ but I don’t have a fine arts degree,” she says. “If you practice, the techniques are the same. Maybe some people have more of a natural inclination, but that’s what I love about henna: It’s such a beautiful art and yet almost anybody can pick it up.”
Teaching comes naturally to Mannetter, who graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in social work. Her passion for helping others shows especially in her work with organizations like the Special Olympics. She’s also taught classes on everything from henna to specialty arts to Spanish.
In addition to formal classes, Zaney Janey has bonded with other henna artists over clearing up misconceptions, specifically the distinction between natural and black henna. (The latter can be highly dangerous.)
“Many people don’t know the difference. Black henna has a chemical called PPD, so it can create a caustic burn on the skin,” Mannetter explains. “Henna should never be black. Naturally it will have that red or brown tone and actually has a lot of medicinal properties.”
You can find Zaney Janey and De-vine Designz at most local art fairs and festivals including this month’s Art on the Kinni, Bacon Bash and Spirit of the St. Croix.