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We hope to offer these soon.
For now, Big Bubbler sells expensive Custom Made Wands at the link above.
He may also have Bubble Mix Concentrate in stock for local delivery and delivery to his bubble shows.
Other Best Bubbling Products?
We are looking for the best wands, mix, bubbling gear,... on the planet. If you think You make a product that is the best in the world for bubbling, We are interested in trying it to see if we want to be selling it or helping you sell it here.You can Contact Kelly on Facebook or by Email.
Here, I give my "secrets" of bubbling away as I want to help people experience and spread the magic and joys of big bubbling to every corner of the planet and beyond. If you value this info., donations supporting our efforts are greatly appreciated. We also love to receive comments describing magical experiences or suggestions for improving our formula or methods.
If you want to send a clean print (or data file) of a great bubble image (with permission from the photographer or other copyright owner to use it) we will try to place it in our web site photo gallery. If you want to be mentioned and/or linked in our "Bubble Friends" section, contact us. We make friends easily. We sincerely hope you will help protect Big Bubbling from getting a bad reputation due to bubblers damaging the environment or property with their bubbling.
"Big" bubbles are our specialty. By "Big" we mean from the size of one to ten medium sized automobiles. With the right equipment, bubbles long enough to encircle a city or even the planet are possible. Creating really big free-floating bubbles is more complicated and difficult than most people realize. It's a performance art form, and when it works, it's a magical experience for the bubbler and the viewers. Our understanding of how to succeed is always changing. Here are some of my thoughts, tips and secrets on the philosophy and artistry of big bubble making.
When Proctor and Gambel (maker of Dawn and Joy) messed up the dishsoap formulas again (so our regular simple formulas quit working), we began to look for a new one. In 2005 "Ehud the Bubbleman" joined in the fun here in Oregon. He became somewhat obsessed with bubbling and with very open-minded bubble formula experiments. After hundreds of hours of testing my ideas and his ideas and those discussed on the Soapbubblefanciers Yahoo group, we now have a formula that works well (even in light to medium rain)! I present it here so everyone can make big bubbles:
This batch makes a full 5 gallon bucketful and costs me about $25-$30:
sorry, I don't have the metric conversions handy.
The Base Mix:
1 and 1/2 Gallons of steam distilled (only) water
60 ounces Miracle Bubbles
40 ounces Super Miracle Bubbles
20 to 25 ounces Dawn Complete (Dishsoap), green or blue
25 ounces Dawn Lift-Action, red (wildflower Medley) or Yellow
This, I call the base mix. This seems to store pretty well and so I wait to add other stuff until I'm within one or two days of bubble time where I will use it all up.
Also, in advance, I mix up the "lubes" with another 2 gallons of water.
Some of the "lubes" need to be premixed a day ahead.
4 ounces Astroglide (personal Lubricant), purple box into one gallon of water. (Found in the unmentionables department)
2 and 1/2 ounces of Equate (personal Lubricant)(a walmart brand) into 1/2 Gallon of water. wallmart sucks and you may be able to substitute a pharmacy product called Surgilube.
6 to 8 ounces Light Karo Corn Syrup into 1/2 Gallon of water.
Shake the lubes occasionally and before adding to the base mix.
Lastly, one beer. We use an 11 ounce "Full Sail Session" Lager (5.1% alch.)
The beer is not crucial, if it is not an option. Try your mix without it and then add it to see what you think. We think it helps.
This is new and complicated. Improvements are very likely and we hope people will report them here. Half as much Glycerine is often substituted for the corn syrup. "Mr Bubbles" bubble mix is often given higher reviews when compared to "Miracle Bubbles". My feeling is that the Mr. is a better product, however, it was not really available here in large amounts (company stopped production in 2005 and shipping is cheaper from California's Miracle Co.). I do not know if the 2005 mix would be better with the Mr.. Increasing the Dawn complete (while decreasing the Lift action) will make the mix more self-healing and better for bubble tricks.
Big Bubble Magic(tm) is testing and experimenting in hopes of providing our own line of bubble mix products for sale. Hopefully we will come up with something ready to use, less expensive, better than the 2005 mix and something that can be shipped dry. Time will tell, KellyO
(and if dark, one glowstick in a white or translucent bucket. This "Nuclear Bubble Mix" effect is great and makes wand dipping in the dark much easier. If you bubble at night, I think you will find this idea alone worth all your efforts to find this page).
Use warm water or give the mix some time to blend. Stir or swirl. Do not create more foam than necessary.
Dawn vs. Joy is a favorite friendly disagreement among bubblers. In the past we used Joy because we liked the name. We currently use Dawn. It may be best if it is "cooked". This cooking appears to boil off some ingredient present in Dawn. This ingredient may also leave your mix if left open for 24 hours or longer? (This might explain how aging of mix has been helpful to some bubblers.) My current method is to put our soap bottles in very hot (not boiling) water for hours with the cap open and "slow cook" the soap while trying to avoid dust or other contamination.
We've heard lemon scent or other "unnecessary" ingredients may be detrimental. The chemistry of the water you use may affect which brand and how much of which other ingredients is best. If anyone knows of a Joy/Dawn replacement which is better for the environment, please let us know.
We are not sure how much help corn syrup or glycerin is. We use them. We think they slow the thinning of the bubble top due to gravity (fluid flow) and evaporation. We are still unsure how much is best. This may be strongly affected by weather conditions. We think they make bubbles heavier. If you bubble, you know heavy is usually bad. We previously preferred corn syrup because we thought it was better for the environment. Now we use glycerin as it seems to store for long periods of time better and we hear it is as safe for the environment as corn syrup. I have not noticed any fermentation of old glycerin-based batches. Apparently cold temperatures can result in the mix precipitating out a white substance. This makes the mix look milky and function poorly. I bet the commercial mixes have an ingredient to control this precipitation. We would enjoy hearing others knowledge on such aspects.
I prefer rather fresh mix, however, I know old mix can be great if not spoiled in some way. Others believe aging is important. I try to only mix the amount we will use and take extra ingredients in case we need more. When conditions are excellent, you can use an amazing amount of mix (especially with extra wands and volunteers). Running out during excellent conditions can be miserable. Commercial bubble mixes can be good or bad. The brands Wonder Bubbles and Pustafix Bubble-O's are rumored to be good. Any brand from Chicago is supposed to be cheap and good. A brand with poor quality mix has excellent little (circle-on-a-stick type) plastic wands (lots of surface area) for working with small bubbles.
We save our used mix - keeping it as clean as possible - to let the crowds have something to play with. Otherwise, the lure of your clean mix can be irresistible. I also take an extra wand. It is great to let volunteers help entertain and not worry if their strings miss the bucket. Big bubbles are certainly possible without this cleanliness perfection mindset. Sometimes a relaxed approach is more important than perfection. Using smaller batches of mix makes it easy to start clean & pure more often. Also, be careful what clean things touch your bubble mix. Standard 5 gallon plastic buckets work. Brass and aluminum seem to react with the mix. Silicone rubber is rumored to be bad (may only be bad before fully cured?). Tin and galvanized metal seem risky.
Go For "Big": Closing bubbles is a very important skill to practice. Making "pretty big" bubbles is often best until you and your fans are impressed enough with your skill. When your ready and conditions allow, go for it. Even under excellent conditions, trying for the 50+ foot (16+ meter) bubbles will lead to many "failures". These "failures" are often very beautiful displays which will impress your fans. Remember, you can't break your own record if you close your bubbles too early. With experience, you will learn to feel when the conditions are right to try. If smaller bubbles are popping quickly, big bubbles will probably not last either. Often, prime conditions last less than a minute and occur randomly during excellent weather. You just have to keep trying to be there when conditions are perfect. However, during poor conditions, try not to wear yourself out only to miss the good times later on.
Holding your wand up high is often helpful when bubbles are sinking or being attacked by bubble popping critters. After significant bubbling, expect tired and sore arms if you have not built up these muscles in advance. Lifting your wand high wears arm muscles faster. If all your bubbles fall to the ground, consider training a crew of your "fans" to "fan" the bubbles upward (Cardboard pieces help). These big bubbles are so fragile your "fanning crew" will need to be skilled at gentleness. These "crews" have a great time helping. Also, start high and lift your wand as you close the bubbles. You can try more water and less glycerin to lighten your bubbles. You can also use warm mix and/or warm air in your bubbles. In cold weather, blowing breath in helps.
An otherwise happy bubble generally pops when the top gets too thin. If you can give bubbles a rolling motion, so the "top" is constantly changing, it can help overcome this problem. The right breeze will roll them for you. Rolling your own bubbles is a complex skill you may be able to develop. I will not try to explain how. I just wanted to mention it can be useful so you can figure it out as you become experienced. It is also good if your bubble "fanning crew" is aware of this.
2nd Bubble's Best: Another little "secret" is to make your first bubble pretty small. Then, go for it on the second one. Reasons for this include giving fans something to enjoy in case the big one bursts, freeing the big one from the heavy bubble-mix drip that hangs from the first bubble using our wand type, and using the first bubble to learn wind speed and direction. By the 3rd bubble, I often seem to have too little mix on my strings for record breakers. If, in really good weather conditions, you are already getting "thin" by the second bubble, you may have a wand problem (see wand info. below). You can also try going faster (gently) or skipping the extra first bubble.
Keep Moving: If your bubbles won't last, always try moving around. The results can be surprising (see "drifts of breeze" below). Even if your bubbles are working, moving around is likely to be helpful and necessary. The mix is not as harmless as we wish. Staying in one location too long can kill grass, create dangerous slippery conditions, and probably other bad stuff (if you bubble enough you may even damage forests, gardens, or buildings nearby). Carrying an extra bucket to rinse soapy spots is often helpful.
Bubbling onto moving cars is quite dangerous if they don't know what is coming at them. If they do know, you can tell a lot about a person (driver) by how they treat a bubble in their path. I would avoid bubbling onto parked cars or other property without permission. I also strongly ask that you resist bubbling into natural waterbodies. Although humidity is higher and bubbles look neat on smooth water surfaces, this practice is an inappropriate attack on all those who's life depends on that water. Another caution is soap in eyes and food. It is good to warn people not to look up as a bubble pops above them. It is also best not to bubble much above food and drink.
When conditions are right and there's little breeze, go for the "giant-donut". Do bubbles that go all the way around you (360 degrees) and then reconnect. To push this trick's limits farther you can try to "bow" out of the center afterwards. A lifting breeze really helps with this. Watch out for the donut hole's shrinking tendency. You can also go for more than a full circle (over 360 degrees).
Everyone wants to be inside your bubbles. My standard reply is "if you can float, I'll make a bubble around you". To put people in bubbles you normally need a stiff hoop wand and a bubble mix pool. An idea I have not yet tried (11/98) but believe will work and be popular on TV (and movies?) some time soon, goes like this. You get your bubblee(s) dressed in a "wet suit" or close to naked (or naked) with all body hair shaved or covered. I believe eyes would need to be protected from the soap (swim goggles?). Then you get them very wet with bubble mix in a place with perfect conditions (100+% humidity) ( and a floor wet with bubble mix preferred). These bubblees should be able to gently walk into and through bubbles without difficulty. Children would be well suited to this bubble wonder. I, of course, am hoping to hear from some music video or Playboy bunny types with a video camera.
Hot weather seems to encourage a shorter bubble lifespan.
If the mix is warm it will evaporate faster. Warmth also promotes faster
flowing (thinning) of bubble walls. If it is humid enough, I think warm
can be fine, but you may want more corn syrup to slow the thinning flow.
I also avoid letting our mix get too cold. While camping and bubbling at
our booth at the '96 Southern Oregon Barterfair, our mix became very cloudy
while bubbling at very low temperatures. This seemed detrimental and warming
it did not return its' clarity. After sitting out in freezing weather,
the pure Joy also opacified until warmed up. Though the mix should not
get too cold, I don't believe the weather can be too cold (except for your
hands). Cold seems to work like corn syrup in slowing fluid flow and evaporation.
Air which is cooling, also becomes more humid. If it's below freezing for
a period of time, however, the humidity tends to drop as liquid moisture
in the air sticks to the ground (frost). We also generally try to avoid
You often can improve your microclimate by watering the area up-breeze from your bubbling. Anything from hand held sprinkle cans to water trucks and fog creation equipment can help with humidity and dust. Wind makes for beautifully-twisted, usually short-lived bubbles (if not too strong). When the wind is a little too strong, you can often find less windy locations such as wooded or building-surrounded sites with interesting wind patterns.
Breeze direction can be critical. At specific sites I've found particular breeze directions are consistently better than others every year. I currently think humidity and dust are the primary variables in these "drifts". Usually, we never know when the good "drifts of breeze" will come along. The best breezes do seem most common near dawn. This may be due to the pre-dawn humidity rise which seems to occur. Places with a breeze that flows across water for a distance before reaching you have great potential. When you get a great "drift" of air, get more bubbles out there quick. I've seen groups of bubbles drift over a thousand yards/ meters together when before and after that "drift" every bubble popped within 20 yards/meters. Although I agree breezes are generally not good for bubble lifespan, it is much easier to get 50+ foot (16+ meter) long bubbles with a breeze than by running the wand 50 feet (and back to the bubble mix).
I currently believe automobile exhausts pop bubbles. It seems you can bubble around cars if the fumes are not too strong.
Other kinds of lights can be a great help. At night, the more lights the better. Lasers, flashlights, strobes, UV, neon,.... The list is endless. Try any you can. Stage lighting can be great. I think neon gives the best bubbleglow per watt. Bubbling into a firepit (especially one with a drum circle in progress) is highly recommended. Keep moving around so your bubbles drift near or into the fires updraft. A beautiful exception to my "maximum lighting" recommendation is the unusual moonlight/starlight only bubbling. I believe aiming lights so they don't hit the ground, buildings, people, etc. around the bubbles is preferred so people's eyes can stay accustomed to the darkness (open pupils). While I'm on the subject of open pupils, I'll mention drugs are completely unnecessary to experience the joy and magic of bubbles. These big bubbles are one of the very few ways you can have a drug-free truly-psychedelic experience. Some do claim, however, that enjoyment is increased by substances which open your pupils or mind to a more full experience. Consult your health-care professional or pharmacist (or some other web page?) for more information on the subject. I will say that I believe consuming most chemicals and significant quantities of many herbs is unhealthy even if recommended.
It would be nice if someone with experience photographing bubbles would send me a few paragraphs on the subject (to insert here). As you can see from my graphics here, it takes a large amount of light to see bubbles well on film. So, the amazing darkness bubbling experience has to be experienced to be seen? On the bright side, in darkness you can get great "UFO" documentation. If you have enough light (such as just before sunrise), a dark background like a dark forest or a dark glass office building really helps.
To order a wand (SORRY, WE Do NOT have any to sell at this time)
from us, send $30.00 (US$) to: Kelly O'Neill, c/o Big Bubble Magic, 2877 19th Street, Springfield, Oregon 97477. Please Do NOT make checks payable to Big Bubble Magic. You will receive a "regular" ( 88 inch/ 223 cm) unless you specifically request a "medium" (72 inch/ 183 cm) wand, or a "small" (52 inch/ 132 cm) wand. Sizes represent the "long string" length and are very approximate. Wand long string length is approximately 1 ½ times as long as the wand sticks. The larger the wand, the tougher to use and the less often the weather will be "good" enough. Long strings can be twisted to create a smaller and easier bubble size. It is harder for smaller people to use large wands. Extra strong arms or a raised platform can overcome this over generalization. My basic suggestion is a "regular" if you're over 5' 4" (163 cm) tall, "medium" for people over 4 feet (122 cm) tall and "small" if under 4 feet tall. I don't yet stock wands larger than "regular" as I don't yet have a reliably successful version. (11/05 update: You can order an "Experimental Large" for an extra $5. I think they are going to be great with the new formula.)
The price may change and I do not guarantee you will be able to make bubbles. Regular shipping and handling in the continental USA is included in the price. If you pick up a wand (by appointment) I'll try to include a bucket and at least a gallon of my own mix. Deduct 10% for orders (excluding extra shipping, if any) over $90.00 US and 20% over $300.00 US. Contact me if you want to know the extra shipping costs for more exotic destinations.
Our strings are like very large shoe laces (wide, thin, densely woven cotton). See the pictures for the basic design. Any piece of material can be tried. Particular materials are more "bubble friendly" than others. Cotton, wool, linen, and silk are on my "friendly" list. "Raw" and "unbleached" are probably preferred types. The natural oils/lanolin on a material may be helpful to friendliness. Storage of wands is best done clean and dry to extend their life. We usually use some 100% silicone sealant to keep mix from flowing inside the wand sticks (1/2" CPVC tubing). For really big bubbles, a wand string will need to "hold" enough mix and have proper "quickness" (bubbles will need to "pull" the mix off of the string at a good flow speed). You need enough surface area and surface complexity to retain enough mix as the strings are lifted out of the mix container. Too little mix means bubbles will be too thin or too short. The amount of mix on your string and the string "quickness" will need to match up. Bubbles need to "pull" off of the strings, thick (slow) enough to last and not too thick. Fast strings (such as nylon or polyester) seem to be so "quick" that bubbles slip off easily and so fast they are thin. My best strings (so far) are a medium speed. I can feel the bubble lightly pulling on my strings. A "slow" string or thick flow does not seem to work. I don't understand the problem very well yet. Strings also need to hang together as you lift from the mix. Limp strings hang well. Stiff strings will need to be weighted or tied at the bottom to avoid separation difficulties.
Our current material is tightly woven cotton, less than an inch wide and creased longways down the center. The "twill tape" found in fabric stores is close in shape and size but is usually a bit thin and fast. My current source is a local carpeting company. I don't think I have found the best material yet. I'd enjoy receiving samples (over 140 inches/340 cm preferred) with their source. Send me a big enough piece and an email address (or an order) and I'll reply with an evaluation if you want one. Two pieces are attached to the handles. The long piece is twice the length of the short one. This exact ratio is not important. To complicate all this, bubble mixes can be "fast" or "slow" also. Your mix, strings, and weather need to match up for maximum success. After all that complication, I'd like to mention Bubble Bill and his refreshingly simple approach:
Tom Noddy (California, USA) is a wonderful person and long time bubble entertainer. His show: "Bubble Magic - No Illusions, Real Magic" and his book Tom Noddy's Bubble Magic (Running Press, Philadelphia PA) are recommended and include much valuable information. I believe Tom's Bubble Magic was instrumental in starting the first Bubble Festivals at science centers. He deserves much credit for his long term efforts promoting bubbles as a true performance artform. Tom's main specialty is constructing amazing groups of bubbles. He does square (really, almost cubic) bubbles and lots of other very entertaining and educational bubble magic. I believe Tom also sells photographs that show off the close up colors of bubbles. Tom is a real professional and his show can be reliably scheduled in advance. He can be reached at TNoddy@aol.com or phone 408.423.1021 or www.bubblemagic.com
To me, one especially interesting part of Tom's show was his demonstration of wet touch vs. dry touch. He showed how dry objects which pop bubbles at the slightest touch can be inserted over and over into bubbles without harm when wet with bubble mix. Tom is much less concerned with dirt in his mix than I am. I believe he considers wet dirt "bubble friendly". I think this is correct for the size of bubbles he works with. I think giant bubbles are so fragile and thin that they are popped by wet dirt particles more easily. After experimenting with dirty mix, I agree you can have plenty of big bubble success without being as concerned with cleanliness as I try to be. I still believe in purity for maximizing bubble size and lifetime. I may still be over emphasizing the importance of purity.
As to the similarity between Tom's and BBM's bubbling names: We are separate businesses. I was unaware Tom was using "Bubble Magic" when I chose "Big Bubble Magic" to describe our activities. I like our name too much to change, but I intend no confusion with or disrespect toward Tom's artistry. I believe our forms of entertaining are more complimentary than competitive. I believe this name similarity is no coincidence. For me it shows the true power and inspiration of bubble magic.
Captain Bubbles (California, USA) is another bubble entertainer I've been hanging out with at events around the Western U.S. Captain Bubbles' entertaining has shifted away from a bubbling emphasis. His current art forms include (as of summer '02) floating wonderful and strange objects through crowds, special lighted and costumed displays, a traveling puppet show and a major Blacklight Maze he installs at events. He and Tom Noddy were some of my early influences/inspirations. As far as I know, the Captain pioneered use of bubble mix pumps that keep your strings wet with mix. This innovation has tremendous potential to expand the bubbling potential of our string wands. I'll build one myself, in time. Don't wait for me though. Captain Bubbles can be reached via e-mail at Bubblefun@aol.com
Felix Cartagena (Delaware, USA) is into kites, bears, bubble machines and making people smile. Kite people are often into bubbles. They help you know the currant wind speed/direction and they are fun when there is not enough wind for your kite. You can put bubble makers on and/or under your kite and launch bubbles from on high. Felix has a lot of experience building bubble machines (and kites). I think he provides his design ideas to those who request them. Most of his machines put out little bubbles. I did see some news footage (video) of him running a contraption that put out truly big bubbles when the wind is right.
Here is Felix's Bubble Manifesto, written for the American Visionary Art Museam to explain his bubble-osophy.
The Bubble Manifesto:
I see bubble making as performance art, but as one step removed. It is not the making of the bubbles but the bubbles themselves that is the performance. By creating the apparatus that makes the bubbles, there is no artist per se... the machine and the vagaries of the wind create the art. Every nuance of the wind is captured by the ephemeral film that glimmers and shimmers, making visible the prismatic colors of light. The forms that billow forth are very much subject to one's personal interpretation, much the same as two people looking at a cloud and seeing different things. The addition of music to the performance can influence the mind set of interpretation but certainly is not necessary.
Making bubbles under the cover of darkness is yet another whole experience. Using a 500 watt quartz halogen flood lamp, only the bubbles are illuminated against the velvet of the night. As an alternative light source, a strobe light freezes the bubbles in an erie dance. As one spectator screamed out as she came upon night bubbles, "Oh my God! This is better than fireworks".
I cannot explain the attraction that people have for soap bubbles. It is beyond science and is somewhere out there on an intuitive and mystical plane. I just know I like to make bubbles. I like to watch bubbles. And I like watching people watching bubbles. It is unspoken harmony with the Universe.
Felix Cartagena Dbubbleguy@aol.com
Gary Deutschmann, Sr. aka Kellemora and MayOnee the Wizard and the "Soda Straw King") (MO, USA) is another kite person and a wealth of bubbling information. It appears it will be years before I test all the ideas he has given me. He sais the best string material is cotton jumpropes with the core pulled out. I have not yet found a good source for this rope. If anyone knows, please let me know. He has also suggested small amounts of "tincture of greensoap" as a secret ingredient. I have not seen it be helpful yet. I believe I was having a bad experience with a green dye on my green wand strings when I tested it. So, I do plan to try it again. I believe he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
11/05 update: There are a bunch of new friends involved at http://bigbubblers.com/ and hanging out at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/soapbubblefanciers/ I'll try to list them all somewhere eventually. For now, I'd check out those places for cool Bubble folks!
If you are a bubbler who would like to be listed here
as a "bubble friend", send us some information so we can get to know you.
We do have a "bubble-making miracle" under research and development. I'm not publishing the idea yet. If it works, big bubbling outdoors during daylight may become much more common than you thought possible. Stay tuned or apply for an internship to learn while helping build magical devices.
Best Bubble Wishes,
Big Bubble Magic(TM) Ringleader
This info is current opinion as of the date it was written. Learning is a constant process and I regret that this web page is usually out of date. We welcome comments and differences of opinion as we hope to improve our understanding of this complex subject. New info is likely at http://bigbubblers.com/
Professor Bubbles' Bubblesphere
Not Linked Professor Bubbles' Great Pictures (http://bubbles.org/html/biggest.htm)
linked The Science of Bubbles / The Yang Family's
World of Bubbles!
of Bubble Links by Ron Hipschman
Carle's BubbleMania (Connecticut)
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