I have this random, but vivid childhood memory – from when I was about 4 or 5 years old – of watching breakfast TV with my grandma. There was this segment featuring a bubble artist…and I distinctly remember being completely entranced by the bubble tricks, especially the ones where he created these magical, spinning, smoke-filled bubbles.
It might have been this guy – Tom Noddy, 1983. Funny how it was totally fine to smoke cigarettes on TV back then.
Being a summer baby (in the UK) meant that my birthday was almost reliably warm and sunny, (at least, it was in the 80’s!) – and every year I used to have a birthday party in the back garden. One of our party traditions was a bubble mix treasure hunt – my mum would hide 30 bottles of bubble mix around the garden for us to find and within ten minutes the garden would be filled with clouds of bubbles and laughter.
So I have very idyllic memories associated with bubbles. But like most kids…bubble play became a thing of the past as I grew up, and it wasn’t until I had my own little girls that I rediscovered the magic. Bubbles are a wonderful toddler distraction, a great way to make new friends at the playground and break the ice between children. I carried bubble mix around everywhere, in the changing bag, in the buggy, in the car boot.
I realized with delight that bubble equipment had become fancier than the basic bottles and wands of my childhood. We amassed a collection of bubble swords, bubble trumpets, bubble guns and gizmos. I bought them for the girls, but I played with them as much as they did. Having young kids was a great excuse to indulge in bubble play without raising any eyebrows ?.
We took the girls to see The Amazing Bubble Man at the Edinburgh Fringe, which is a sell-out show year after year. We watched some fascinating bubble workshops at the Science Museums in Glasgow and London.
And so over the last few years… I’ve realized that we’ve learnt quite a bit. I know which washing up liquids work best for homemade bubble mix. I know what weather conditions are best for blowing large juicy bubbles (still, damp and cool days are bubble days!). I can tell when the tray is too foamy or when the mix is too weak or contaminated. I know when a bubble is about to burst by its colour.
Armed with this growing repository of bubble knowledge, I have recklessly offered to host a bubble party for Miss Chu’s 8th birthday this year. I designed her an invitation to distribute, describing the event as “lunch + some bubbly fun”. Miss Chu took a quick editorial glance, approved the graphics but reworded it to read “a magical bubble experience”.
Ok, no pressure. I’m not quite the Amazing Bubble (Wo)Man yet. So now I’ve got about two weeks to get my act together. Of course, there are bubble artists you can hire for kids’ parties – but I figured that for the price of hiring one of those – I could buy a whole lot of equipment and we could all have fun having a go! (Anyone who knows me knows I like to DIY my kids parties!)
Obviously, having a bunch of kids playing with soapy solution could be a recipe for a messy disaster, so I have to have a foolproof (haha) plan of action and a lot of towels to hand. And after all this prep – I’ll try and do a proper post and video on all our bubbly experimentation soon!