I know I’ve out-tweed myself with this one and I know we’re edging past bubble season in this hemisphere. BUT HEAR ME OUT. This is very important.
Faye had one bottle of bubbles this summer, of the usual sort. There was the brightly colored plastic bottle, the solution made of utterly undisclosed ingredients, the terrible plastic wand that evades your grasp and leaves your hand covered in slime once you manage to get it out of the bottle.
This bottle of bubbles was a very big hit. Of course it meant me blowing countless numbers of bubbles while Faye chased them delightedly and I (softly and under my breath) cursed the sticky solution dripping down my fingers and the impossibility of fishing the stupid plastic wand out of the bottle where I’d dropped it (again). The bubble solution itself lasted for about 20 minutes, until 3/4 of it was spilled onto the grass of the park, never to be seen again. That’s the thing with bubbles, isn’t it?
In an effort to waste not/want not, I decided to refill the plastic bottle with a solution of the homemade variety and after a little bit of trial and error, I got a simple solution to work. The only trouble was, that once we were back on the bubble train, Faye’s enthusiasm for bubbles grew apace with my annoyance at the plastic bottle and sticky wand.
And so I came up with a solution that ended up being not only 1,000,000 times more beautiful to look at, but 1,000,000 times more tolerable to play with. Wrapping a bit of wire about a piece of driftwood, and pouring the solution into a sturdy, squat jar that’s nearly impossible to knock over (and small enough that there’s not a huge amount of waste when it does inevitably get spilled) solved the dilemma altogether. Bonus: Faye fell into immediate love with her heart-shaped wand.
It’s another case when what at first pass appears to be the more labor-intensive or self-sacrificing route is actually just the opposite. (See also: homemade playdough.) Simple matters, etc. Having a bubble recipe up your sleeve, storing the bubble solution in a jar that’s little and low, and making a wand with a handle that’s long enough to keep everyone’s hands out of the soap makes the bubble experience just a whole lot more pleasant. Very minor problem, solved.
The basic bubble solution:
+ 1 part dish soap*
+ 3 parts water
+ enough vegetable glycerin to keep the bubbles intact (a scant teaspoon is enough for a small jar like this one)
Mix it all together and start blowing bubbles!
The bubble wand:
+ 1 slender stick
+ annealed wire (or any kind of florist wire)
+ wire cutters/floral scissors
Start by making your bubble wand shape (leaving enough wire on either side of the shape to wrap around the stick). I went totally free form with the shape of my wand, but if you wanted something more intricate, you could try using a cookie cutter as a guide and wrap the wire around the cutter to get your desired shape. (Of course, regardless of the shape you make, the bubbles will still end up round. So if round or wonky is all you’ve got in you, go for it.) Close up the shape by twisting the two ends together and secure it to the stick by winding each end tightly around the stick. Cut off any remaining wire with wire cutters. (If the end feels sharp, use your cutters to squeeze the wire so that any sharp bits flatten out.)
*When endeavoring to make my own bubble solution, I asked friends and early-childhood ed types and the gentleman blowing enormous bubbles in Central Park what they used for bubble solution and consulted this helpful list of recipes. Dish soap factored into every single response. But when I set out to make my own, I found that the eco-soap we had on hand didn’t have enough sudsing agents to make very reliable bubbles. The laundry detergent we keep in our house for hand-washing however? Just right. All this to say, depending on what kind of soap you keep around, you might need to experiment a bit, but eventually you’ll get bubbles!
Beautiful … in every way. 🙂
“I (softly and under my breath) cursed the sticky solution dripping down my fingers and the impossibility of fishing the stupid plastic wand out of the bottle where I’d dropped it (again).”
I actually laughed out loud at my desk when reading this because this describes this past summer with my one-year-old: asking for more bubbles and me having sticky hands and inevitably losing the wand ten times during the activity. Saving this post for next summer’s bubble fun!
I think an after nap romp to the florist for wire is in order. The perfect project for us 🙂 Thanks, as always!
Good grief, if I didn’t already have the biggest *how-can-I-make-this-simple-and-beatiful* crush on you before, this would just send me over the edge. It is exactly what I would try to do! Thanks for always being a source of validation and inspiration with my morning coffee. 😉
Yes ! Love the joy bubbles bring my little one but hate the mess. Can’t wait to transform our bubble with your beautiful ideas.
I’m going to do this! My daughters have their annual fall pictures coming up, and the photographer suggested bringing bubbles because they make pretty pictures and keep the youngest from getting crabby. This is definitely prettier than what I was going to bring.
Now, where does one find vegetable glycerin? Is this at the grocery store?
Yes! Got mine at the grocery store (if not, check the pharmacy!) Cheap and easy to find!
This is perfect and beautiful!
So creative and lovely.
A genius and elegant solution. Bravo!
Oh my! This is so simple and beautiful thank you so much for sharing. I’m definitely going to do this. My daughter loves bubbles but I have refused to by her the horrible plastic containers. She has had to make do with bubbles at her friends houses but this now means she can have her own.
I love this! I bought some bubbles (for myself lol) earlier this year for fun. It was great until the solution stopped working after about 10 sessions. I don’t know if it got old or what but I’ve been meaning to find a simple DIY recipe so thank you for providing one! 😀 Also I love how you made your own heart-shaped wand–it’s so lovely!
LOVE EWE, ERIN.
Yessssss, a thousand times, yesss!
Erin, you have in fact “out tweed” yourself with this one but this is the kind of aspirational shit that keeps me coming back for more, haha. I’m totally going to make this for my nieces, AND I have endless mason jars and vegetable glycerin lying around from some homemade rose face mists I made over the summer. double win.
HA HA! Yessss.
You don’t have to quit blowing bubbles when it gets cold. Bubbles blown when the temp is below freezing last longer.
Oh boy! I wish I had read these when I ordered veterinary lube for my daughter to make giant bubbles! Can’t wait to try out this recipe ..
This. Is. FABULOUS!! Wish I had seen this 15 years ago! My son – now 18 will probably give a polite nod if I show him this but my three nieces and NEPHEW!! Yay!! Perfect handmade Xmas gift.
Thank you thank you thank you!!
Love it! You have some amazing shots too…happy bubble blowing!
Dear Erin, I love this, it works fabulous, however, it creates stains on my kids’ clothes that cannot be removed. I found on the internet that that is because of the glycerin. They are grey stains, and are here to stay… Just wanted to share that!
But, I love your blog! 🙂
oh, fascinating! i’ve never experience (or noticed!) that! i wonder if it’s a question of concentration or a mixture with particular soaps. will keep my eye out to see if i notice it happening. just mixed a big batch last weekend!
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