I saw the bubbles all the way from the far end of the Ocean Beach Pier on New Year's Eve day. When I got closer, I couldn't believe how huge they were! Bubble-meister Alan Kier was having a blast, floating his bubbles off the pier — and so was everyone else, watching.
Kier said he was inspired by a movie about ten years ago, when he saw someone blowing huge bubbles. He recently started making the bubbles for fun — when he isn't working part-time as a glass installer. He said he did it for the joy it brought people.
Kier said the soap mixture and the sticks and rope used to form the bubbles are what make his endeavor possible. He uses distilled water because it's always the same, unlike tap water. He uses original Dawn dish soap, no scent. (“The mixture must be exact, like baking a pie, or it doesn't work.”) He uses three different recipes, depending on how big he wants the bubbles and weather conditions.
Kier relies on two websites to find out about wind and humidity and said offshore days are best because they allow people to see his works float toward the ocean. His bubble-maker is constructed of bamboo sticks so if kids are running around and happen to step on them, they won't break; they're about ten feet long, so they are over everyone's head. The synthetic ropes are arranged in a triangle so that after dipping them in the soap solution he lets the wind blow through them and giant bubbles are formed and released.
His friend, photographer Roger Lawrence, takes photos of the bubbles and they sell them on their website. Kier said they have sold about ten photos since they started a couple of months ago. They are printed mostly on metallic paper, as it makes the photos “pop” a lot more. Depending on the size ordered, they can range anywhere from $45 to $600 apiece. Their goal is to replace drab photos in places like hospitals and offices.
Kier recently started making bubbles at parties and weddings. He was practicing for a wedding later that day when I talked to him. The bubbles would be doing their thing as guests walked from the ceremony to the reception area. He said he’s done about six or seven kids’ parties and worked his first Christmas party last month. He usually charges about $75.