Alva Bradford has always constructed things. One memorable instance involved tying the living room furniture together with string to create a giant spider web. Other preferred mediums have included scotch tape, finger paints, and other craft-like materials. Her first formal education began in primary school, where she took a sewing class at the age of eight. Shortly after, her first creative application began with sewing on lined school paper, which continues to be one of her favorite pastimes. Alva’s first years of costuming were for modern dance companies. For these types of performances, the costumes need to be durable and comfortable enough to roll around on the ground, as well as stay in place when inverted. This was quickly discovered when a garment came down on a dancer’s head that was attempting to perform a handstand, essentially blinding and trapping the performer.
Before the days of what Alva likes to refer to as “computer wizardry,” she was creating backdrops with overhead slide projectors. Making masks and puppets with projections managed to earn her a video award. Later on, she commissioned the rest of her artistically inclined family to create a puppet theatre, featuring her creations (rod, string, and a dash of felt board) all based loosely on absurd versions of fairy and folktale characters.
For the past 20 years, she has spent her time costuming at Clackamas Community College and worked with Clackamas Repertory Theatre since its inception. This has filled everyday since with endless amounts of fabric, needles and thread.