Main wand example using a
Josephine's Knot pattern
Everybody likes soap bubbles! Whether you're blowing them for your own enjoyment or to celebrate a special occasion such as a graduation or wedding, it's fun to challenge others to blow the biggest and longest-lasting.
In this activity, we'll learn how to make our own bubble solution and how to create a special bubble wand by tying a macrame´ knot. Macrame´ is an old craft in which cords are knotted in various combinations, resulting in a finished piece such as a wall hanging or sculpture. The method is used also to make clothing, belts, bags, and other utilitarian items.
The term, macrame´, is Arabic for "fringe," and Middle Eastern craftsmen began using the technique centuries ago to add trim to solid fabric. Over the years, the knotting method developed as a craft in its own right, and eventually people were using it to make altar cloths and church vestments. There is evidence that macrame´ was popular in France and Italy in the fifteenth-century, and in the 1800s, British and American sailors practiced the craft to help pass the time on long voyages.
Macrame´ has enjoyed a revival among artists and craftsmen in the past thirty years. The technique is usually done with cords such as jute, sisal, raffia, and flax, but it's possible to adapt macrame´ knots for use with other materials. To make our bubble wand, we'll use telephone wire, a plastic coated copper wire, to tie a variation of "Josephine's Knot." While most bubbles are spherical in shape, you'll be surprised by the ones you can blow from this wand. By recycling materials to make it, we'll help save natural resources, energy, and landfill space.
You Will Need:
- Colored telephone wire
- Pliers or wire cutters
- Disposable elastic/rubber gloves
Step 1: Gather about a dozen wires of the same length. Each strand should
measure 24" to 30".
Step 2: Tightly twist the bundle into one long rope and straighten. If necessary, clip the ends to make them even.
Step 3: Bring the two ends together, slightly bending the rope in the center.
Step 4: Take the left end over the right, forming a loop in the middle about 1.75" to 2" in diameter.
Step 5: Still working with the left strand, make another loop about 1" in
diameter on the right overlapping the larger loop about halfway down and
finishing where the two strands overlap at the center, as shown.
Step 6: Holding the two loops together at the bottom center, bring the strand on your left around to make another 1" loop opposite the first small loop.
Step 7: To secure it, weave it under the large loop, over the small loop on the right, under the large loop again, and over the small loop once more.
Step 8: Again, finish making the loop at the bottom center. Take the left hand strand over the big loop and under the small loop on the left, as shown. If necessary, adjust the two smaller loops so that they're about the same size. Twist the tails together just below all the loops to hold the knot in place, and continue twisting the strands to form the handle.
Step 9: If you wish, reinforce the handle with more wire, and accent it with one color. Fasten the small loops to the main loop with scraps of wire. Finally, flatten the top of the bubble wand by gently pounding the wire with a hammer.
Making the Bubble Solution:
You Will Need:
- Corn syrup
- Dish washing liquid
- Gallon jug
- Container with cap
- Measuring spoons and cup
The runaway favorite products for making bubbles are Ultra Dawn and Joy Dish Washing liquids. They're recommended by "bubble experts" all over the world! Following are some recipes for making your own solutions.
Bubble Mixture for One:
- 4 tablespoons Ultra Dawn or Joy
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons Karo Light Syrup
To use with our bubble wand, mix the ingredients in a wide-mouthed container or bottle, and enjoy!
Large Quantity Mixture:
- 2 cups Joy
- 6 cups water
- 3/4 cup Karo Light Syrup
Mix the ingredients in a gallon jug. Shake and then let it settle for about four hours. Again, to use with our bubble wand, pour some of the solution into a wide-mouthed container or bowl. Have fun!
Tips and Tricks:
If you can't find scrap telephone wire for this project, substitute a piece of aluminum wire, or just use a thin, wire coat hanger. Needle nose pliers will be helpful in bending it.
Try experimenting with other objects such as a rubber band, straws, paper clips, or the handles of a pair of scissors to see if you can blow bubbles with them. An easy way to make lots of bubbles at one time is to reuse a small, plastic, vegetable basket from the supermarket. Just add the bubble mixture to a pie pan, dip, and blow.
For iridescent soap bubbles, mix 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon glycerine (available at a pharmacy), 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent, and 1 cup of water.
See the Bubbles page at The Exploratorium to learn how making bubbles is related to science and mathematics. While you're there, check out the links to other Internet Sites and the "Bubbliography" for a list of great books.
Then float over to The Bubblesphere for a visit with Professor Bubbles. There you'll learn how to make more bubble solutions and wands. The site also features some games and a bubble forum where you can get expert answers to your questions about making bubbles.
When working with telephone wire, please take the following safety precautions:
- Wear disposable gloves
- Never put the material in your mouth.
- Don't leave the wire in direct sunlight.