The Art of Domino


Domino is a game that involves stacking small, thumb-sized blocks on their ends in lines or angular patterns. When one of the blocks is tipped, it causes the rest to fall over in a cascade, resulting in a large structure or elaborate design. The word domino also can be used figuratively to refer to any situation in which an initial action spreads like a domino effect, or series of events.

The most common type of domino set contains 28 tiles, called “dominoes,” with one side bearing a number of dots or pips (a value between one and six) and the other blank or 0 suit. There are several different types of domino games, ranging from simple blocking games to more complex scoring and layout games.

In the most basic form of domino, players place the first tile in a line, then flip it over to start the sequence. Then, they take turns placing the remaining tiles in a row until the entire line is completed. In some cases, the last domino is placed in a way that it will trigger a particular outcome when tipped over, such as making the other players take turns putting down their pieces to build an arithmetical or geometrical shape.

Dominoes can be made of a variety of materials, including bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl or MOP), ivory, and dark hardwood such as ebony, with contrasting black or white pips. In addition, they may be made of polymer or clay. Natural materials have a more substantial feel and, in some cases, are more expensive.

Hevesh, who works on projects that can involve more than 300,000 dominoes, says that the one physical phenomenon that is crucial to a successful setup is gravity. This force pulls a knocked-over domino toward Earth, which can cause it to crash into the next one and start a chain reaction.

Hevesh often tests her work to ensure that the final product will function as intended. She will make test versions of the most complicated 3-D sections and then move on to flat arrangements. She films each section in slow motion, allowing her to spot errors that might occur. She then makes precise adjustments to the piece until it is ready to be filmed in its entirety. The whole process can take hours or even days, depending on the size of the project.