1908 The Art of Bubble Blowing

PERCY COLLINS :: The Pall Mall Magazine :: July to December 1908




The art of bubble·-blowing is not difficult to acquire, always provided that one's soap solution is correctly prepared. Several formulate have been suggested, but probably the most simple-‐namely, plain soap and water-‐is the best. Everything depends, however, upon the mixing.. Any good pure soap will serve the purpose. It should be rubbed patiently in a bowl of water until a heavy lather is formed. Every particle of lather must then be removed from the surface with a spoon. After this, a test should be made as follows: Dip an ordinary clay pipe into the solution and proceed to blow a bubble. If this bubble attains a size of six or seven inches in diameter without bursting, well and good. Now dip a forefinger into the solution, and try to push it through the bubble well towards the centre. Success in this essay will mean that the solution is ready for use; but if, on the other hand, the bubble should burst prematurely, more soap must be rubbed in until the above tests can be successfully carried through.

So much for the solution. A few simple appliances will also prove of great service to the artistic bubble-‐ blower. These the writer has shown at Fig. 1. There is the clay pipe already mentioned; there are a couple of tin funnels of different sizes, as well as a long straw, such as one uses when imbibing an iced drink; and a ring or two of wire, which may be quickly made by twisting the wire round a bottle. A sheet of ordinary window glass, five or six inches square, completes the list.

Given a correctly prepared solution, and the apparatus just enumerated, success in bubble-blowing depends mainly upon the observance of two rules. The first is, never to stir or shake up the solution when once made; the second is, always to smear liberally with soapy mixture everything from or upon which a bubble is to be blown.

To conform with the latter injunction it is a good plan to keep one’s straw, when not actually in use, standing in a bottle of solution, in order that its “business end” may be kept constantly moist. The rest of the solution may be kept in a saucer.

We may now briefly describe a few of the many pleasing tricks which may be performed with bubbles.

First, the experimentist may attempt to form a string of bubbles -‐ blowing one with the pipe, throwing it into the air, blowing a second catching the first, and so on. With practice, a chain of five or six-‐or even more — bubbles my thus be formed (Fig 2). It must be admitted, however, that this performance calls for quickness of eye and deftness of touch, and is by no means as simple as certain other bubble tricks which, at first sight, seem far more elaborate.

For instance, it is quite an easy matter to blow a number of bubbles one inside the other. First pour a thin film of soap solution upon your sheet of glass, then dip your straw and blow upon the glass a good sized hemispherical bubble. Now dip the straw again, and thrust it with a kind of “cautious boldness” through the big bubbles and blow a somewhat smaller one inside. Repeat the process (Fig. 3) as often as possible, and a very pretty series of iridescent hemispheres will be the result (Fig 4). An accomplished blower will sometimes form as many as a dozen bubbles, one inside the other, before the inevitable final dissolution puts an end to his triumph. Much depends upon the steadiness of the hand and eye.

A variation of the above trick is readily provided by a smoker. First, a large bubble is blown upon the sheet of glass in the ordinary way; then a “pull” is taken at a pipe or cigarette, the while the straw is re-dipped, and the second bubble within the first is inflated with smoke instead of air. The result is a beautiful white, solid-looking hemisphere within another shining with rainbow colors (Fig. 5).

A good deal of fun may be secured at a bubble party by asking a novice to place a bubble upon a flower. He will attempt the feat until his patience is exhausted, but without success. Then the master of ceremonies will accomplish it with ease — the secret lying in the fact that the flower has first been secretly smeared with soap solution, which provides, so to speak, a “foothold” for the bubble. Both smoke filled and clear bubbles may be used effectively for this trick (Figs 6 & 7), and a number of flowers of different kinds may be adorned. If the solution be strong and good, it is quite easy to make a dozen or more bubble flowers before the first one bursts.

The wire ring may now be brought into play with somewhat astonishing results. An ordinary hemispherical bubble, blown up on the sheet of glass, maybe drawn up to form a cylinder see figure 8. Of course the ring must first be dipped into soap solution, when it will be found twit here tenaciously to the outer surface of the bubble. By blowing a bubble with a pipe, throwing it into the air and then catching it with two rings of soapy wire, the said bubble may readily be pulled into a barrel shape. An elliptical bubble is made by first dipping a wire ring into solution so that a film stretches across the opening; then, with the straw, blowing a bubble upon this film. Two bubbles are actually formed and close cannot contact, the results resembling an old-fashioned lens see figure 9.

Another very effective trick may be described as parentheses “the opening and closing the flower.” A five pointed corolla should be cut out of rather thin white paper, mounted with a pin point upon the court of a small bottle, and well smeared with solution. Upon this a good-sized bubble is to be mounted. If the bubble does not itself pick up the rays of the Corolla, they may be quite easily adjusted as shown at figure 10. When these preparations are complete, it is an easy matter to make the flower open and close by thrusting the straw into the bubble and either sucking out air are blowing it in, according to requirement figure 11.

In conclusion, several more elaborate bubble tricks maybe described.

Let us first suppose that we wish to blow a bubble over a flower. Again by placing the flower upon the sheet of soapy glass, or in a shallow sauce or containing a little solution. Over the flower put it 10 funnel of suitable size, and start to blow gently down the tube, the while you right raise the funnel from the glass or saucer. Continue to blow until sufficiently large bubble is formed. Then disengage it from the funnel bike turning the latter carefully at right angles. To accomplish this feat calls for a little practice; but the novice will generally succeed after three or four attempts see figure 12.

Variation of the above is to blow a bubble over a statuette or ornament, previously preparing the same by fixing a tiny circle of paper (of course well wetted with solution) upon its summit by means of an atom of cobblers wax. Then, upon this platform, a little smoke bubble may be placed, with the effective results shown at figure 13. Again the bubble maybe blown over a little paper pinwheel, mounted upon the small cork, and we'll set in rapid motion within the bubble by a current of air blown through the ever useful straw see figure 14.

The foregoing hints by no means exhausts the possibilities of the Art of bubble blowing. The imaginative reader has doubtless already devised in other tricks more or less complicated—and may he have luck when he puts his fancies to the test! Yet, after all, success is less a question of luck than of conformity to a few simple rules. Be scrupulous in can cutting the solution. Never stir or shake it once it is ready for use. Applied the solution to all apparatus, both inside and out, before attempting to use the same. Above all, take time; For hurry is nearly always disastrous.

It cannot be too plainly stated that the words “apply the solution to all apparatus, both inside and out” must be taken literally, and put into force with their awareness, if success is to attend to the early attempts of the amateur bubble blower. Pipes, funnels, straw– Everything, in fine, that a bubble is to be blown from, or that a bubble is to touch– Must be thoroughly anointed. For if one tries to blow a bubble from a dry pipe or funnel, or to transfer a bubble when blown to a dry surface, that bubble will certainly first. Of course this fact need not be divulged at once to onlookers at a bubble display. Indeed, a vast deal of fun may be derived from the failures of those who are not in the no to imitate the tricks which the accomplished bubble blower performs with so much ease.

A bubble party, especially where young folk are concerned, will prove a great success if properly organized. The nature of the gathering should be indicated upon the cards of invitation, and preparation should be complete before the arrival of the guests. A large table is necessary; and it should it have a polished surface, libel to be damaged by soapy water, a Macintosh sheet should be spread up on it. Each guest must be provided with a chair; each, too, should have a bowl of soap solution, a clay pipe, some straws, etc. Two or three funnels will probably meet the needs of the gathering. These funnels, by the way, should be tested, as the rim of each must be quite true– I.e. fit closely all around upon the sheet of glass upon which the bubbles are to be blown. If this is not the case, the final must be discarded, as an an even rim renders successful bubble blowing impossible.

A great deal may be accomplished in heightening the effectiveness of a bubble party by selecting the most appropriate setting for the bubbles. Pretty bowls and saucers, and dainty little ornaments, add greatly to the beauty of a bubble set piece such as shown at figure 13. For a bubble may just as readily be raised from the saucer, by means of the funnel, as from a flat sheet of glass. Further, bubbles look best among dark surroundings –the loveliness of their iridescence being emphasized thereby.

Prizes, to be awarded to the guests who acquit themselves most easily, given zest to a bubble party. The winners are elected by ballot in which all present take part.