Introduction: Become a Soap Bubble Magician

Summertime and the livin' is easy. A good time for some magic. But how to become a soap bubble magician? I made a step by step guide with tips, a video and photo's.
The last four years I did a lot of performances with giant soap bubbles in my home town and on festivals. I do this because; I am fascinated by bubbles, I want to share the bubble experience with others, I do it for the fun and for free. Showing giant soap bubbles belongs to the best time of my life. Now I want to share my experiences with you creatives from all over the world.
This instructable is a practical guide on how to make a soap bubble show. On internet there is a lot said about soap bubbles but their is not much information on how to prepare a show with giant bubbles in public. Involving children in the bubble fun require's special attention. Weather conditions are important and also the right scene. If you like you can dress up in exotic outfit.

                                        Soap making movie


 

Step 1: The Tools

In this first step we take a look in the magicians backpack. What tools are in?

1 - A big wand.
      Sticks: Length:110cm/43inch and 2cm/0.7inch diameter. Wood or fishing rod.
      Rope: Cotton cord 3mm/0.1inch diameter. Total length: 3.40m/3.70yard
2 - Small wand's (5x).
      Sticks: Length: 90cm/3 foot. 0.5cm/ 0.2inch diameter. Bamboo garden sticks.
      Rope: Cotton cord 3mm/0.1inch diameter. Total length: 1.35cm/53inch
3Deep plates: 30cm/12inch diameter. 1.6inch deep. Take plastic flex dishes.
4Funnel made from plastic soda bottle.
5Container with giant bubble soap. Content: 5Liter/1.3Gallon for 1 gallon soap.
6 -  The handpuppet Tinkler, to tell the youngest the story of the 'icarus bubble'.
     

Step 2: The Big and the Small Wand

For the big wand I use the lower part of a cheap chinese fiber fishing rod. They are easy to carry and light weight. The short length of the cord between the sticks is 1m/40inch. The long part is 2.30m/90 inch. I made a knot in the cords 10cm/4inch from the top, This to avoid becoming entangled with the stick. Tyraps keeps the rope in upper position. As you can see the loop knot is on the lower end.
For the small wand I use cheap garden bamboo sticks of 10 cents a piece. The short piece between the sticks is 40cm/16inch the long part is 110cm/44inch. Tyraps keep the cord in place. Take the rope a little longer because the knots. I carry 5 small wands for the people who want to make smaller bubbles. Bubbles till 50cm/20inch diameter are stronger and last much longer.

Step 3: Deep Plates, Funnel and Container

Deep plates
For dipping the rope in the soap I use deep plates from flexible plastic. Maily children walk easily in the dish when looking at the bubble. Mostly the content is lost but not the plate. For that reason a breakproof plate is fine. So, keep an eye on that… Two plates are enough: One for me and one for the others. Don't forget, stay attentive during the bubble show.

Funnel and container
To put back the remaining soap in the container you can make a funnel from upper half a soda bottle (reuse). The lower part you can use as a soap cup. The 5L/1.3Gallon plastic jerrycan is an empty coolant or wiper fluid container. This has to be cleaned very well from rests fluids. This containers are perfect to carry 1 Gallon of bubble soap.

Step 4: Bubble Soap Secrets

Many people think bubble soap is a mysterious substance, with secret ingredients. It's not. It's more the composition of ingredients what makes a good bubble soap. It's a dynamic mixture that can vary between soapiness and more viscosity. Between pure detergent and a certain mix with glycerine. One molecule glycerol can bind 6 water molecule's. When making big bubbles it's important to make the surface of the bubble strong, still flexible but not poppy. Glycerine is fine but also sugar, cornstarch and wallpaper glue enhance the viscosity of the bubble soap.
It's the composition that counts. My basic super soap mixture for 1gallon/3.8Liter is:

1 - Mix 30ml/1ounce glycerine in 2.5Liter/10cup of lukewarm water. Stir this for a minute.
2 - Liquefy 250gram/9ounce crystal white sugar in 0.5liter/2cup of hot water.
     Stir this for a minute.
3 - Dilute 400ml/1.6cup (heavy liquid but not extra concentrated) dish washing detergent
     in 0.5liter/2cup of cold water. Stir this slowly for a minute. Don't make foam.
4 - Mix 1, 2 and 3 together and stir this (with a paint impeller) for some minutes.
5 - Let the soap rest from some hours to a day. Now we got about 4liter/16cup of soap.
     This super soap mixure is a good start.


6 - Experiments:
a - You can make the viscosity higher by adding 10ml/2tablespoons glycerine in 300ml1.2cup
     of water, stir this and add to the basic soap.
b - Or stir 2 tablespoon of cornstarch in 300ml/1.2cup cold water and bring this to nearly boiling.
     Add this to the basic mixture.
c - To delute the soap add 300ml/1.2cup of water to the basic mixture.

7 - Stirring is important. Use clean buckets and pots. Use a scale and measuring cup.

Bubble soapology
The main part of the soap mixture is water. Suitable water is very important. Distilled water is the best. Tapwater in most places is usable. Don't use hard water. You can tap soft water from an airconditioner. Filtered rainwater is also usable. Use a coffee filter to get the dust particles out. You can test tapwater by making bubble soap with distilled water and tapwater and compare the results.
In fact, soap does not affect the viscosity of water in any way. What soap (or detergents etc.) do is to reduce the surface tension of water. This allows the water to spread more easily over a surface, and to reduce or eliminate the tendency for the water to bead up on a surface. But the viscosity of the water itself is unaffected.

Step 5: Bubble Performance in Public

Before action in public you can better exercise in your garden or in a park nearby. I give you some tips what to take in cosideration.
1 - Soap is not free of irritands. Take care with getting soap in your eyes and mouth. Working with children needs some extra attention to avoid accidents. Take always a soda bottle water with you to rinse the face or eye.
2 - Lift the sticks slowly with the rope together out of the soap and open the loop slowly. Keep the sticks up, to free the bubble high up. Bubbles are heavy and sink down. Avoid making foam in the plate by stirring with the wand/rope. To make a free flowing soap bubble you 'cut off' the bubble from the wand by bringing the sticks together and pull away the wand slowly.
3 - Wind and weather are important factors on how successful your performance will be. Morning and evening are fine, but not the full midday sun. Also some humidity is favorable. When to much wind, look for a place behind some high trees. With no wind walk back to catch some air in the soap. Look out for objects on your way back. This warning applies especially for children.
4 - Children want always to bust the bubble of somebody else. That's a habbit. Fill a plate with soap and give them a wand. Explain the procedure to the father or mother to help the young child. Children older than 5 have a better locomotion. Younger kids are mostly problematic. Give them a bubble game, for blowing small bubbles. Tell children to pass on the wand to other kids waiting. Take care that they don't hit with the wand. Do encourage/compliment them when they make beautiful bubbles.
5 - Presenting Soap bubbles is always magic, but you can do an extra effort to make the scene exotic and photogenic.
a - Dress up in fancy outfit. b - Use an information board. c - Use a magic collorfull tent. d - Have a bubble game for the youngest. d - Dress the kids with the magic cloak and hat. e - Have quet magic music in the background.
6 - Some bubble magicians make a living with a bubble show by selling want's and soap. That's fine,
but do it right; with a fantastic show! Personally, I am not engaged in any commercial activity.
I want people to learn to be creative themselves. Be a Maker!
This is it. Have a nice 2013 summer with magic giant bubbles!

Comments

author
Peaceluvinveggie (author)2015-04-25

I don't know if I'm missing something or not......first of all, thank you SO much for this recipe. Based on the title I assumed there would be instructions on doing some bubble tricks and upon further reading I was hoping to hear the story of the puppet. Do you have any articles or blog posts on ideas for creating your own bubble magic show? I am making the wands and solution for my kids but would love to learn how to do tricks and would like to hear your story for the puppet. This would be a GREAT addition to our Sunmer parties, backyard BBQ's and play dates.

author
bcollins18 (author)2014-11-07

This really seems like NightHawkInLight's idea...

author
betterways (author)2013-07-02

I have a question about the bubble mixture. I want to make something safe for my dog who discovered bubble chasing ever since attending a birthday party in the park. it's a good way to entertain and exercise him, but I'm concerned about him ingesting the soap.

I tried plain glycerine soap, but it didn't work well. And so I asked someone who has done children's science presentations and he told me to use pure glycerine, no soap and that it's the glycerine in the soap that makes the bubbles anyway. But I tried that and most bubbles pop immediately. i've also seen recipes that involve the addition of corn syrup but I suppose that it just a variation of your sugar recipe.

Do you have any suggestions to minimize the amount of soap?

author
yopauly (author)betterways2013-07-03

At the concentration of IamWe's recipe, is it toxic? Dawn dish soap is touted for saving animals effected by oil spills. Could Dawn be your answer?

author
betterways (author)yopauly2014-05-08

They use Dawn because way back at the first big spill response, they didn't know what to use. Amongst their experiments, they went to an ordinary supermarket and bought whatever they had. Of those supermarket items at that time, they found Dawn to work the best. and have used it ever since, probably because it gets donated. It doesn't mean it's the best thing available now. And it doesn't mean it something you want to ingest. In fact, I've seen a test of grease cutting in dishwashing and they found Method to be the most effective.

author
IamWe (author)betterways2013-07-02

When bubbles pop immediately the viscosity is to high. That's to much glycerine, sugar, etc. The mixture is not soapy enough. I tried eco- detergent as soap fluid. That did't work at all. Normal thick fluid detergent, with chemicals has the best results. See this website for the ingredients:
http://uk.cleanright.eu/index.php?option=com_product&task=view&id=47&Itemid=195
Betterways, I hope someone has good results with neutral harmless bubble soap and is willing to tell us how to make it.

author
j0nip (author)2013-08-20

Hi, the proportions here don't match the video......is this an improved recipe? Great tutorial . Thank you.

author
Ruud van Koningsbrugge (author)2013-07-21

gefeliciteerd met de welverdiende prijs in de toy contest!

author

Dank je wel. Je weet van te voren nooit als projecten ook aanslaan.

author
MathijsWester (author)2013-07-09

gaaf dit ga ik volgende week zeker ook uitproberen op kamp met mijn scouts :)

author
Fo55ilise (author)2013-07-08

MY grand-kids are going to love this.

Thanks for the Instructable.

author
ynze (author)2013-07-05

Mooi! En heel fijn om een beproefd recept te hebben, dankjewel!

author
1gr81 (author)2013-07-04

Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together! As a father that is always trying to add a little "magic" into his kids lives, I will take all the help I can get. People like me...truly need people like you. :) Thanks again. :)

author
Mexaniker (author)2013-07-04

I always wanted to do something like this. Cool! Thanks!

author
microfarm (author)2013-07-04

This was just a terrific post, lesson and view into your beautiful universe of bubbles! As an artist I have also always loved bubbles and have often had to improvise making them for bath-time or fun-time entertainment. I have been known to remove my wedding band and dip it into diluted dish detergent in a pinch to blow bubbles with the little ones. Your tutorial, photos and explanation is inspiring and I will definitely do this! Thanks!
Nissan

author
armstk180 (author)2013-07-02

What a big bulb !!!!
Be careful Man , don't flight !!!!! :D

author
nerfrocketeer (author)2013-07-02

Cool!

About This Instructable

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Bio: Tinkerer from childhood on. After my retirement, together with my wife, fully committed to creative production. I prefer simple solutions for non-existing problems.
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