How Do You Make a Domino Installation?


Domino, a cousin to playing cards, is an incredibly versatile tool for game play. From professional domino competitions to simply setting them up and knocking them over, the small rectangular blocks have inspired countless games. They have also been used for educational purposes, in physics demonstrations and as a way to teach basic math and counting.

A domino is a small, flat, rectangular block of rigid material, typically made of wood or plastic, with a surface bearing markings that resemble those on dice. These markings, called pips, are the basis for the various kinds of games played with dominoes. Most sets have the same markings on both sides so that they can be arranged in straight lines, but some sets have different markings on one side or are marked only on one face.

The most popular use for dominoes is to play positional games, in which a player places one domino edge to edge with another domino, so that the adjacent ends match (e.g., 5 to 5) or form some other specified total. Then the players take turns placing the remaining tiles until they run out of dominoes or cannot make a move.

Hevesh begins each of her mind-blowing domino creations by considering a theme or purpose. Then she brainstorms images or words that might be related to the theme. Once she has an idea, she creates a model in a three-dimensional format. Once it’s working properly, she moves on to creating the flat arrangements and finally the lines of dominoes that connect all the sections together.

When Hevesh starts a new installation, she always tests it before she tries it in real life. She uses a variation of the engineering-design process that begins with a prototype to ensure that each part works properly. Then she adds more and more parts until she has an entire installation. She even makes test versions of the largest 3-D sections to ensure that they work well.

Each time a domino falls, much of the potential energy that was stored in it converts to kinetic energy, which provides the push that causes the next domino to fall. That energy travels down the chain, providing a push for each subsequent domino until it all topples over in a spectacular display of physical science.

Dominoes can be made from a variety of materials, but most common are polymer resins or clay. More expensive, high-quality dominoes are often crafted from natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl or MOP), ivory and dark hardwoods such as ebony. Some sets have the upper half thickness in MOP, ivory or bone and the lower half in ebony for a unique look and feel.

Dominoes can be extended by adding tiles with greater numbers of pips on the end, allowing for more combinations of ends and thus more possible games. The most common expanded set has double-nine dominoes, and larger sets are available for more serious gamers.