Old Beauty

Old Beauty - Body

About this Object

Print on paper of a fabric quilt with an arrangement of rectangles and triangles that creates a ladder-like arrangement at the center; rectangles and wedges of different colors, predominantly in orange, yellow, white, eggplant purple, grey, and teal.

Loretta Pettway is one of the women in the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective in Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Since the 19th century, women in Gee’s Bend have quilted, transforming everyday scraps of fabric and clothing fragments into beautiful quilts for warmth. Now, their quilts are exhibited in museums worldwide. They are no longer considered to be only practical objects, they are also considered works of art much like many decorative art items in the collection. This image, however, is not a quilt, but a print of a quilt. Loretta Pettway was one of a handful of quilters to travel to Berkeley, California, to work with Paulson Fontaine Press to transform their quilts into prints through a process known as intaglio printing.

Zoom into the work and click here to explore other works by the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective and Paulson Fontaine Press. Read about Loretta Pettway and her quilts.

Interested in seeing how quilts become prints? Watch this short video by Paulson Fontaine Press.

Helpful Terms

Intaglio – A type of printmaking where the illustration or design is carved into a metal plate creating grooves for ink. Etching and aquatint are two of the five types of Intaglio printing used to create Old Beauty.

Etching – A type of printmaking where the illustration or design is carved into a metal plate. See step-by-step photos of the engraving process by the Metropolitan Museum of Art here.

Aquatint – A type of printmaking that allows for shading or tones to be produced. Read more about aquatint here.

More to Explore...


If you were going to make your own quilt, how would it look? Would you opt for a geometric pattern like Loretta Pettway? Or would you want to illustrate a scene? Would your quilt be monochrome, ombre, or a variety of colors? On a piece of paper, sketch out your quilt. How does your quilt reflect who you are?

Level Up

Turn your drawn quilt into a real one! You can use a sewing machine or just a needle and thread. You can used discarded fabrics or clothing. It is up to you. Think about the texture of each fabric and how they would feel stitched together on a quilt.

Question Corner

  • How were the colors you chose for the coloring page different or similar to the real print?
  • What do you think is the original artwork? The quilt? Or the print? Or are they both? What makes you think that?
  • Learning how to quilt was a skill passed down from generation to generation in Gee’s Bend. Is there a skill you learned that was passed down to you? If so, do you feel it is part of your identity?