A Bubblemancer needs a wand.
There are many bubble wand designs out there. From the cheap bubble wands that come with off the shelf bubble juice, to extra large world record breaking sized bubble wands. Take a look at The Soap Bubble Wiki's page on wands for a broader understanding of what's out there.
We use what are referred to as tri-string bubble wands. Even though the wands are actually only make with two strings. They are the very best for casting enormous outdoor soap bubbles. Over the years we have experimented with many different materials. We have found that there are a few factors to take into consideration when designing a tri-string bubble wand.
Let's outline some of these factors.
Intended User: Depending on the intended user of the bubble wand you will want to adjust the bubble wand size accordingly. The best example of this is a bubble wand for a young child. If the child is fairly short you will want to make a bubble wand that is scaled down for their size. If the bubble wand is too big they may not be able to lift it high enough or even get the bubble wand's loop off the ground to cast a bubble.
Weight: Weight is one of the most important considerations to make when designing a bubble wand. Even with an extremely light weight wand you will still be lifting it over your head over and over again. It can be quite the arm work out. Especially if you are bubbling for hours. Weight needs to be accounted for across the board. Not only with the pole and wick materials you use, but also taking into consideration how much the wand weighs when the wick is fully saturated with bubble juice. In the past we've experimented with bubble wands that were so ridiculously heavy that they were unusable even after one or two dips.. The bottom line here is think ahead. You'll thank yourself later.
Bigger = Harder: The bigger the bubble wand the harder it is to use. Just the mechanics involved with raising the bubble wand over your head to cast a bubble, then closing it and bringing it back down into your bucket of bubble juice is hard. As a matter of fact getting the bubble wand back in the bucket is the hardest part of the whole process. It takes considerable practice. This is why you will see us use lower profile bubble juice containers for our larger bubble wands. Not only are bigger bubble wands harder to work with mechanically. Larger bubbles are more vulnerable to popping prematurely. This is because of the increased surface area of the bubble you are attempting to cast. I will get into this topic more in Troubleshooting.
Now let's talk about bubble wand materials.
Tri-string bubble wands are a very simplistic creation. Simply two poles and two strings. What makes this difficult is material selection. If your materials are too heavy you won't be able to use your bubble wand without considerable effort. If you use a poorly chosen string material for your bubble wand you can run into a few different problems. Perhaps your bubble wand loop is too weak and breaks. Maybe your wick material is not absorbent enough because it is too tightly woven or because its made up of some odd composition of synthetic materials. Or perhaps your bubble wand loop drips off most of the bubble juice it absorbed before you're able to cast a good bubble. These frustrating issues can be avoided with some simple education around bubble wand materials.
As for poles it really depends on how big of a bubble wand you want to make. The bigger the wand the lighter the material you need to use. For miniature wands we use chopsticks. For medium sized wands we use gardening stakes, and for large ones we use telescopic carbon fiber whip fishing poles. Whip fishing poles are the absolute best for large wands in our opinion. If you decide to make one you will need to remove a few selections of the fishing pole so that the wand is rigid enough. So keep in mind that the poles you purchase will lose a few feet of length when you put your wand together. The extra sections of the fishing pole can be used to make a smaller extremely light weight bubble wand too! Take a look at the poles page on The Soap Bubble Wiki for more ideas.
As for choosing the right wick material this is what we have learned. The material needs to be loosely woven. You can't go wrong with 100% cotton however some blended synthetic materials work very well too. This is especially important with larger bubble wands as the synthetic options tend to help with weight reduction. For cotton we use clothesline. With clothesline there is a synthetic core that needs to be removed by hand which can be pretty difficult. Use gloves when doing so to avoid getting rope burn. Once the synthetic core is removed the diamond weave cotton rope with a hallow core is seriously hard to beat for small to medium sized bubble wands! For larger wands we use a loosely woven "Chunky" blended synthetic/wool yarn. This yarn works great across the board for all sizes of bubble wands but it is especially useful for large wands. Check out the wicks pages on The Soap Bubble Wiki for more related information.
We recommend making your tri-string wand loop an equilateral triangle. Meaning that all three sides of the tri-string loop are equal lengths. To do so start with your top string. Whatever the length your top string is make the bottom string twice as long. This will result in all three sides of the loop being equal.
For someone just starting to get involved with the hobby I recommend making a miniature tri-string wand out of chopsticks and loosely woven yarn. Chopstick wands are great for beginners and children. We've had hours of fun with a tiny bubble wand. They are great for on the go. Keep one in your car with some bubble juice and a small cup ready to go. Your bubbles will still blow people away.
If you are looking to advance beyond the use of a chopstick wand we recommend making a Garden stake wand. These wands have been a staple of our bubblemancy for years. With a good hallow cotton clothesline wick you will be casting huge bubbles! These wands tend to be on the heavier side but their performance outweighs that disadvantage. One of the nice things about these wants is that you can use a 5 gallon bucket for bubble juice and the wand can sit in the bucket when it's not in use without tipping the bucket over as long as there is a decent amount of bubble juice in the bucket.
For large to extra large bubble wands we recommend making a Telescopic carbon fiber wand. These wands are our latest creation. With the weight reduction from using carbon fiber and a blended synthetic wick material these wands are extremely light weight for their size. We love these wands for casting the biggest soap bubbles we can muster. They are also very nice for casting medium sized bubbles at a higher height by making the wick loop a little smaller. This is useful when bubbling for children because they will have a harder time reaching the bubbles to pop them. With these bubble wands you will need to use a lower profile bubble juice container as the wand will not work with a 5 gallon bucket. Just be careful not to step on these wands as they are easily damaged.
Don't be afraid to experiment! Doing research and development is half the fun with this hobby. Just keep the factors I mentioned above in mind as they will help keep you on the right path. Lastly, have fun! That's what this hobby is all about.