Melinda Padgett, Fine Bookbinding

Santa Cruz, California

Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop, 2005

Tight back French style binding; sewn on vellum strips; split boards, wide raised bands; bound in ivory calf with Morocco onlays and blind tooling; double headbands in silk; leather joint; endpapers are reproduced 1891 maps of New Mexico; cross ornament on spine made from handmade tool carved from brass. The cover design suggests the imposition of Christianity over the Southwestern Pueblo Indian culture. The spine is intended to resemble a bible’s binding; the Southwestern motifs are adapted from traditional Acoma pottery designs. 21 x 16.5 x 4 centimeters. Created 2005.


My interest in hand bookbinding began on Christmas day, 1977. I became captivated by a handmade book my sister had received. Learning how to make books soon became my lifelong obsession. I began my studies with Anne and Theo Kahle at Capricornus School of Bookbinding in Berkeley. In the 80s, I received my Bachelorís Degree in Graphic Design with special emphasis in book design. During that time, I worked in the Conservation Dept. of Shields Library at UC Davis and took additional coursework in Library Conservation through SF State University. In 1987, I moved to Santa Cruz to join an eminent group of book artists known as the Santa Cruz Printerís Chappel. Through them I met master binder Constance Hunter, and have been studying fine bookbinding with her ever since. My special interest is in fine and design bindings. Additionally, I have taught workshops in basic bookbinding and Japanese binding through art centers in Davis, Mendocino, and Santa Cruz. I have a home studio where I do repairs and restorations, and private commissions for fine bindings. I am a member of the Hand Bookbinders of California and the Guild of Book Workers.