Piecework with denatalium shell can elaborately decorate a dress, hair pieces, earrings, or hats. Mildred most often creates hairpieces and wedding veils for brides. She enjoys making the veils because they each one is unique. She stays as traditional as possible when she make the veils. Brides are not given the veils until the day before or day of the marriage.
Mildred first observed dentalium work from her grandmother, Annie Joe (better known as “Tquannanmy”), while she was applying the shells on medallions and dresses. She used to travel with her grandmother to Indian wedding trades and saw other young girls wearing hairpieces made from dentalium.
Mildred Quaempts (Yakama/Cuyuse) was born and raised on the Umatilla Indian Reservation where she has resided all of her life.