For those who want... The Big Bubbles
My really big free floating bubbles require special conditions to work. I'll explain in detail here. See the info on the sides if you don't really Need the biggest bubbles at your event. (Note: The regular daytime bubbles can be pretty large. Often, larger than any the viewers have ever seen before.) I will also provide (below): links to pictures/videos and to Big Bubbler's recent events/ ramblings/ internet miscellany and I will discuss Big- and Smaller- bubbling lesson options. In the left sidebar I will provide information about contacting me, scheduling a show and offer a chance to pay with PayPal. In the right sidebar, I will discuss Event Bubbling, lighting for bubbles at night, bubble photography, weather control, bubble-mess issues,...
How big I can make the bubbles depends on the air:
To make what I, Big Bubbler, think of as "big bubbles", we must have very moist and very clean air. This "big bubble air" is not usually available if, for example:
1) humidity (air moisture) is low because the Sun is out or your in a desert,... Or
2) things like factories, cars or fires are burning fuel upwind of the bubbling site,... Or
3) excessive dust, bugs, large raindrops, pollen, seeds,... are flying in the breeze.
The difficult nature of big bubbling is why it has not been seen by most people. If you really want to see it, then you have to find good air or make it. I'll discuss controlling the weather in the sidebar for those with the motivation/skills/budget for that approach. Finding good air is usually not all that difficult. A major part of my ability to make big bubbles comes from my ability to find the best air around. Often, the hard part is being able to schedule an event in advance for a reliable time and place (that people want to show up at). I should also mention here that even in good outdoor air, the air quality changes often. It is best to plan to bubble for an hour or more so that we are bubbling when the best "drifts of breeze" flow by.
When it works examples:
For these examples, I will assume we have chosen a location where the air is clean (upwind of cities, busy streets, etc.).
We are looking for hi humidity (over 80% is best). Most of the Year in Oregon it's pretty moist. Often it is showery and you can get pretty good ones intermittently all day and night long. It is hard to plan in advance for this season because if the rain drops get too large or it gets too windy or the sun comes out or we get a weather "inversion" in cold weather with lots of wood stoves burning or ..., then it might not work well. Rain helps clean the air of pollution, dust, bugs, etc. and so, I love some rain and a lot of showers. A large covered area can fix the large droplet issue.
Speaking of Wind:
I prefer a good breeze. The largest bubbles require about 10 to 15 mph airflow (you can run smoothly or skate or skateboard or ... at that speed if no breeze). I'm not much of a skater, so in low and no wind situations, I make donuts and other odd shapes that get very large and have their own artistic charm. Wind can be a concern if it gets over about 18 mph. I can often find a place with some protection from the wind if it is not over about 25 mph. If it's a little too windy, it is usually perfect for the Bubble Blizzard (TM) show mentioned in the sidebar.
Unless we control the breeze somehow (see sidebar) the bubbles go with the flow. If you try to put me on a stage with a 10 mph breeze headed backstage, I'll try to warn you about the problem. I can often find a place upwind of the crowd to float them from that is a good crowd pleaser. A solid wall like the side of a building can be great. The air flows up and/or around it and everyone loves it. Things like trees and wire fences that let the air flow through, are bubble killers. The best thing is when the flow is to the crowd when the crowd has room to move out of the path.
Summers in Oregon are dry:
Even so, big bubbling is usually still possible here for an hour or more just before the sun comes up. The reason the humidity is high at this time is complicated to explain, so I'll skip that for now. After "sunrise", if there is enough cloudiness to block direct sun light, the air can stay good until the Sun "burns" through and dries the air. This can add hours to the "bubble time". There is also, usually, a short time when the sun first shines on the bubbles when it still works and they are especially colorful and flashy. A Summer sunrise show is a pretty reliable one to schedule. In places with long dry spells, we do have to watch out for "wildfire season" (very late Summer in Oregon) as it can mess up places that are usually the cleanest air.
Along the West coast the sun often takes much longer to burn through the clouds/fog and so good bubble air is often much easier to find. Sadly, it is also often windy. A gentle breeze off the ocean is what bubblers dream of around here. Some of the biggest bubbles seen on You Tube are this sort of air. I am often extra happy to tentatively schedule a show in such a great place and then only perform if we get lucky with the weather. The Bubble Blizzard (TM) show mentioned in the sidebar is often a good backup plan.
Cold is usually a good thing as it increases the relative humidity and slows evaporation. Evaporation, by the way, is why dry air pops bubbles. Too much cold causes the water to fall out of the air as frost (instead of the dew I love). Long cold spells lead to very dry air until it starts to melt. When it first starts to melt and every icicle and icy tree starts dripping, the air could be as good as an ocean breeze :-).
Pop or Save the Big Bubbles?
Assuming a "Big Bubble" show is about the big bubbles as entertainment for a crowd, I encourage people not to pop them. Although, this is really up to the person who hires me (and the crowds desires). Even when we all agree not to pop them, I think it is O.K. for each person to pop a few if they want (preferably not the biggest ones and not until I have closed the bubble at my end). Also, in calm weather, bubbles usually fall to the ground when made. I feel it is O.K. to pop any bubble that is about to hit the ground.
"Fan" or Play With the Big Bubbles?
When the bubbles are falling to the ground, volunteers sometimes like to try to "Fan" the bubbles upward to Save them. At some shows, the "Fanners" are a big part of the show. This usually works best on bubbles smaller than a meter (3 feet) in Diameter. Many kinds of fanning tools are used including hands, paper plates, African woven basket types, painters tools, custom built bubble fans and battery operated fans. Personally, I think the best fanning tool is blowing up on the bottom of the bubble with lung power. Crowds can get quite excited when a fanner succeeds in saving a bubble.
There are many ways to play with the bubbles besides popping or "fanning". Blowing on them is fun as you really get see your affects on them. If you blow correctly, you can make "bubbles-in-bubbles". This often pops them, but when it works it is awesome. Some bubble mixes work better for this trick than others. The best place to blow is on the bottom where the bubble wall is thicker (and it makes the bubble go up). An interesting note: every time you blow a little bubble into a big bubble, you make the big bubble bigger by the amount of air in the little one. When conditions are good, you can blow many bubbles into a bubble for a very impressive display.
The biggest bubbles are often very fragile and pop if you mess with them at all. Sometimes the air is so good that you can get away with stuff like fanning and blowing bubbles-in-bubbles.
Scheduling a Big Bubble or Extra-Big Bubble Show:
To schedule a real "Big Bubble" show you should be aware of the complications mentioned above and contact me to set it up (see left sidebar). I am happy to discuss the details of your situation and try to give you an estimate of the size of bubbles I think I can make under those conditions. Also, be aware I never promise big bubbles will work. Unexpected troubles can occur. I am confident that I will do the best show the conditions allow. Usually even a show I would consider a failure will impress most audiences as the biggest bubbling they have ever seen.
Teaching Big- and Smaller- bubbling and Wand Making Workshops: I can teach many things related to bubbling and will generally try to squeeze in some science and other tips in any show. I like to teach bubbling and wand making.
Big Bubbling lessons requires good air. It is pretty easy to learn if you are tall enough (over about 3 and 1/2 feet minimum, the taller the easier) and have strong enough arms/hands. The hard part is keeping the wand from touching the ground or anything outside the bucket (to keep the wand and mix extra clean). Keeping the gear and mix clean is important to me and so students need to be willing to try to keep the strings on my wands from touching things. If they have their own wand and mix they can ignore this concern if they wish.
I can also teach "fanning", blowing "bubbles-in-bubbles", and whatever else interests you.
It is best (but up to who hired me) to schedule lessons before or after any "main show" (if there is one) as it is a distraction if done during. If before, those trained can bubble during the "show" if desired (assuming buckets of mix and wands are available).
If you want to have one or more people learn to bubble, buy an hour or more of "Teaching Bucket" time (see PayPal options in left sidebar). There is a one hour minimum on any extra bucket (and wand) I need to bring. These hours are inexpensive because this teaching time will happen during my "show time" and so you may want to schedule me for an extra hour or... so I'm not distracted during the main "show". Lessons can be one person at a time or buy 2 or more teaching Bucket hours and note how many buckets will be the most needed at any one time. With one teaching bucket, I can probably teach up to about 7 students per hour if they are all watching the lesson and take turns trying it. Less students per bucket/hour would allow each of them more time to bubble. For a big crowd on a smaller budget, I can teach a couple hundred people at once with just one teaching bucket if they all watch a few people learning and don't all get to try it.
Wand Making Workshops can be anywhere from a simple coat hanger type up to Extra-Big-Bubble Wand making sessions. Contact me for the details.