The Art of Domino Installations
When you think of domino, you probably think of a game where you set up tiles in a line and then flick them one by one. Lily Hevesh, 20, first started playing with her grandparents’ classic 28-pack when she was 9 years old. By age 10, she was creating spectacular curved and straight lines of dominoes on her living room floor, and now she’s a professional domino artist, setting up elaborate setups for movies, TV shows, events—and her YouTube channel, Hevesh5.
She starts with a template, which is a paper drawing of the design, and then uses a ruler and pencil to mark the outlines on the surface of a sheet of plywood or MDF. Then she adds color with acrylic paint or spray paint to make the outlines stand out. Finally, she cuts out the pieces with a table saw or band saw and sands them down with a belt sander.
Hevesh tests out each piece on a small section of the overall arrangement before making the final cut, so she knows that the dominoes will fit together correctly. Then she puts the larger 3-D sections up first, then the flat arrangements, and finally the lines of dominoes that connect all the different parts of the installation.
Dominoes have been around for centuries and can be played by two or more people. They’re most commonly used in games that fall into two broad categories, blocking and scoring. In many games, a player must knock out all of their tiles to win.
Each domino has a number of pips, or dots, on each side. Each number belongs to a suit, and each suit has its own colors. Some games also have a blank suit—sometimes called the 0 suit—that doesn’t belong to any particular suit.
When you play with a domino, it’s important to be on a hard surface because the tiles will easily slide. It’s also helpful to have a boneyard, or a collection of unplayed dominoes, nearby to draw from if you run out of tiles.
The physics behind dominoes is surprisingly simple. “When you pick up a domino and hold it upright against the pull of gravity, that’s a store of potential energy,” explains Stephen Morris, a physicist at the University of Toronto. “As the domino falls, it converts that potential energy into kinetic energy, and that’s what causes one tile to topple, then another,” he says.
Dominoes also generate a lot of heat when they’re being played, which is why it’s important to wear rubber gloves when handling them. That extra layer of protection prevents a domino from slipping and sliding, which could potentially injure someone.
There are a variety of ways to play domino, from the classic game of knockout to complex strategy games. Most of the games use the same rules, but they vary in how you arrange and place your dominoes on the table. For example, some games require players to play a domino with matching values—ones touch one’s, fives touch fives, and so on—while others use a random method of selecting tiles to play.