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Giant Bubble Maker
You can make floating bubbles as big as a Volkswagen with this do-it-yourself bubble maker that's easy to make out of about $3 worth of 'hardware store parts.
Here's a list of the parts you need:
•    One 2-ft. long, 3/4-in. dia. pvc pipe (3 ft. long for older kids or adults.
• Two 3/4-in. pvc pipe caps.
• One 1-in. pvc coupler.
•    60 to 100 in. of water-absorbent ribbon (depending on length of pvc pipe). Woven rickrack, available from fabric stores, works the best but you can also use a band of material from an old T-shirt. Just cut around the shirt's belly to get a single ribbon-type length.
•    A ring-shaped weight to help open and close fabric loop. Key chain rings or light-weight washers work fine.
First, cap one end of the pipe with one of the caps, glueing it in place. Then, slip the fabric loop through the pvc coupler and slide the coupler over the uncapped end of the pipe.
Next, temporarily tuck a few inches of one end of the fabric ribbon into the pipe's uncapped end and measure 1 1/2 to 2 ft. down the pipe and tie the fabric to the coupler at that point. Then slip the ring weights onto the fabric and tuck an inch or two of the end of the ribbon into the end of the pipe and put the remaining pvc cap over it. You may have to sand down the end of the pipe to get the cap on. Don't glue this cap in place because you make want to adjust the length of the ribbon loop later.
To make the bubble solution, add about 1/2 cup of Dawn or Lemon Joy dishwashing liquid, along with a capful of glycerine (available at drugstores), to a gallon of clean water. You can adjust the mix as needed to make the bubble stronger or lighter depending on conditions. Bubble making works best on overcast days since in the sun the bubbles will heat up and burst. On a sunny day it's best if you work in the shade.
Dip the entire length of the fabric loop in the bucket of soap solution. Let it set for a few moments to become saturated. Slowly lift the fabric out of the solution, keeping the coupler ring all the way forward so the ribbon loop is together at the end of the wand. Let excess solution drip off into the bucket and then lift the wand clear of the ground and start sliding the coupler ring toward you, up the pipe. As the loop opens, a bubble will begin to form. Gently move the wand horizontally in an arc, or walk slowly and the bubble will form. Once the bubble is as big as you want it, slowly close the loop by sliding the joiner ring back down the pipe, cutting the bubble free.
When conditions are right, there's almost no limit to the size of bubbles you can create. Some people say they've made bubbles up to 20 yards long using the bubblemaker.
Reprinted with permission from BACKHOME Magazine, P.O. Box 370, Mountain Home, N.C. 28758.

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1992 - Volume #16, Issue #4