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.
Umatilla Cornhusk False Embroidery
Sanna Parikka, OFN Intern
Artist Michael Johnson and his Apprentice Melinda Broncheau from the Confererated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation practice traditional cornhusk twining, creating unique cornhusk hats, baskets, and bags. Johnson’s art combines traditional twining techniques and designs with modern materials, including wool-based yarns. He learned this traditional art form from various elders who all have inspired him to pass the tradition on. The craft is called “false embroidery” due to the special technique of tying the husk ends.
For his apprenticeship, Johnson taught the intricate method of twining a traditional cornhusk hat. The creation of the hat included numerous steps from the design and twining of the base and the bear pattern to the finishing touches of decorative pearls and feathers, inside lining, and buck skin edging. The twining is the most tedious part of the process. It can take up to one hour for an experienced cornhusk twiner to finish just one row of a larger piece – working two to three hours per day, it took Melinda Broncheau nearly 70 days to complete the hat.
Cornhusk hats are often used in ceremonial namings, food gatherings, and traditional dancing. This particular hat will be a gift to Melinda Broncheau’s daughter.