How to make bubble print paper

Follow these instructions to create a work of art and chemistry while learning some maths.

You will need

  • bubble mix made from:
    • 3 cups dishwashing detergent
    • 7 cups warm water
    • 1 cup glycerol or sugar
  • acrylic paint
  • saucer
  • paper
  • straw or bubble wand.

What to do

  1. Bubbles ready to be turned into a bubble picture

    Add two parts bubble mix to one part paint in a saucer.
  2. Grab your straw or bubble wand and gently start blowing bubbles in the saucer.
  3. When you have a saucer full of bubbles, lightly press the paper onto them to make a bubble print.
  4. Try different colours to make a rainbow bubble picture.

What's happening

Bubbles aren’t always spheres. When you blow lots of bubbles together, you’ll see they press against each other and share a wall. If the bubbles are the same size, the wall will be flat. If the bubbles are different sizes, the smaller bubble will bulge into the larger one.

For lots of bubbles to fit very closely together, they stack together as six-sided hexagons – another structure that requires the least energy possible. Hexagons easily stack together without any gaps in between.

When you have a print of four or more bubbles together, you can see how the bubbles press against each other to best fill the space. The angles between the bubbles are about 120°. That's the same as the angle between two sides of a hexagon next to each other.


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