FAQs for new Bubblers & tips for all
You are new to bubble play and performance? You are wondering how to get started?
Start with a little research.
1. Visit & perhaps join a group of soap bubblers on the web. Facebook offers many communities for Bubblers. SoapBubbleFanciers welcomes anyone at any level of experience with an interest in bubbles.
2. Read through David Katz' classic 4 part online pdf book: The Chemistry (and a little physics) of Soap Bubbles
3. Soap Bubble Wiki has grown into an invaluable resource. You'll find even-handed, crowd sourced information—from "Lists of home brew secret ingredients" to"How do I build that Big Bubble Maker?" Edward is doing a bang-up job piloting this ever expanding, very important resource. From their Home Page: "Soap Bubble Wiki is devoted to all aspects of creating soap bubbles whether it is blowing bubbles with a dime-store wand or creating whale-sized bubbles with a "tri-string" wand. This wiki is intended as a place for beginners and experts. Beginners can find recipes and instructions for making the equipment required to make the bubbles you see here, and experts can both find out the latest bubble knowledge and share their knowledge."
4. In 2014 Wayne Schmidt conducted a series of tests that should be required reading for everyone interested in GIANT OUTDOOR BUBBLES. VISIT.
5. A great video explaining how to make big outdoor bubbles using tristrings & variations, as well as a good basic big soap bubble recipe / formula. A real pleasure to watch this & the info contained is accurate, concise, well thought out & just-plain exactly what you need to know.
6. Facebook. It's a GREAT way to keep track of what bubblers are doing around the world. Where to start? How about with my bubblecentric timeline? Reading other's replies there will give you a good idea of who else you might like to follow: www.facebook.com/kj.bubbleguy.
7. Bubble SCIENCE How do they work? Where do the colors come from? Why are they spherical? & so much more:
A. From the University of Miami: My favorite Intro to Bubbles site. Great content and illustrations, links to experiments, some history & more. Just go. You'll be glad you did.
B. The Exploratorium Bubble Science Pages: Years ago, Ron Hipschman at the Exploratorium in San Francisco crafted a series of excellent science of soap bubble pages. It remains one of the best resources for this information. From the Home Page: "What is so fascinating about bubbles? The precise spherical shape, the incredibly fragile nature of the microscopically thin soap film, the beautiful colors that swirl and shimmer, or most likely, a combination of all these phenomena? Why does a bubble form a sphere at all? Why not a cube, tetrahedron, or other geometrical figure? Let's look at the forces that mold bubbles."
C. Wikipedia Of Course!
F. Experiments for Home and School--a quick search for "soap bubble science classroom" will lead you to many sites like this one: http://www.hometrainingtools.com/bubbles/a/1505/
Q: How can I build one of those moats to put a kid in a bubble?
A: Moats use a lot less liquid than the traditional (pre-2010) Pond (Baby Pool) versions of KIB. While you can find moats for sale, those cost a lot and the shipping can double the price. Instead, check out this video I made about how to build your own. UB makes a fantastic inflatable version which comes with hoop and everything you need. It's what I use for fly-out shows. It is called: Uncle Bubble's MEGA LOOP.
Q: I'm new to using a Zero Launcher to make foggy bubbles. Can I reuse the fog fluid that drains down into the collection side of the ZL?
A. I don't recommend reusing the fluid from the collection side. Especially if you do not know how much bubble solution has drained into it.
If the drain side is filling up fast, you're squeezing too much fluid through the heater, the excess isn't vaporized so it floods out and drains down.
If you keep your batteries fresh (or topped off if using rechargeable) and get to know the feel of how much liquid to feed-in with trigger pulls, you'll generate a lot less waste.
Why does bubble solution harm the machine? The heating coil is fairly delicate and corrosion is an issue if it's asked to vaporize chems other than what's in the fog fluid. Vaporized polymers and surfactants from bubble solutions will leave behind unwanted gunk on the coil.
Chances are good reusing the gunk will shorten the life of the machine.
The LAUNCHER from Zero Toys has been a go-to machine for making foggy bubbles for a long time. It is inexpensive, easy to adapt and does the job well. Drawbacks: It is a toy and not tour-strong. If the machine is ON with no fog fluid pumped through it for more than a few minutes the heating mechanism can be irreparably damaged. Still, I highly recommended these. Find them HERE.
Polyvinyl Alcohol. My take on PVA as a solution additive:
Poly(vinyl alcohol) is a water-soluble synthetic polymer. It is sometimes supplied as beads but more commonly available as a water based solution. Bubblers regularly circle back to talk about whether or not it would benefit our formulas. In Japan for many years a major component of home brews was PVA/Starch, used when ironing clothes..
The easiest way I found to experiment with this ingredient (https://www.britannica.com/science/polyvinyl-alcohol) was to use a Touchable Bubble solution. UB's in particular because at least then you know you're working with a version of PVA that is proven to successfully coexist in a surfactant/water based film.
That said, I tried many other forms of this chem, starting with lab supply sourced powders to various liquid suspensions (glycerin &/or water), different versions of specialty PVA glues ----
In the end, No joy. No benefit. At least not for the kind of bubble I was after: A single solution, bubble show quality, with a range stretching from trouble free Giant KIBs to intricate sculptures.
It seems to me to be an ingredient suited to higher concentrations, either to create those pearl sized, long lasting touchable bubbles or larger Aristid V. Grosse type super elastic bubble plastic type bubbles.
Highly diluted--I found no advantages.
As ever, I would be delighted to be proven wrong by someone who has put in the effort to show they know what they are talking about.
Aristid V. Grosse with one of his plastic bubbles c1973
Here's a piece I did with Discovery Channel's Time Warp program. We explored the behavior of soap films & bubbles by slowing down video footage from very high speed capture.
Shooting high frames per second video requires a LOT of light. In fact, scenes like this were lit with 2 Super Trouper spotlights from very close range. Sure, it was hot but the images we got were well worth the discomfort.
Photographing bubbles in a studio is a real challenge.
It requires time to fine tune positions of lights, backgrounds, reflectors, flags, drapes and etc. All that is required to avoid unwanted reflections and hot-spots on the soap film.
This tutorial about shooting glassware is terrific and contains a ton of relevant info, tips and tricks we can use in shooting bubbles.