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!