The Art of Dominoes

Dominoes are small, flat blocks used as gaming objects. They are also known as bones, pieces, or men, and are commonly associated with the game of domino. The word domino is also a term that refers to any event that sets off similar or other events in a chain reaction, such as a falling row of dominoes. This type of chain reaction is referred to as the “domino effect” (though it is also sometimes used in a more general sense to refer to any action that initiates a cascade of similar or other events).

The word domino comes from the Latin dominica, meaning “little domino,” referring to the fact that one domino can tip another one over. Historically, dominoes were made from wood or bone, but nowadays they are generally manufactured from plastic, ceramic clay, or polymer materials. Often, they are painted with a contrasting color or pattern to make them easier to see and identify. Depending on the game, they may have markings on one side that are used to identify each tile and its value (e.g., pips). Some have blank sides that are used as wild tiles and can be ascribed any value.

A domino game begins when the players draw and place their tiles on the table. Usually, the first player, determined by drawing lots or by who holds the heaviest hand of tiles, plays the first domino, which is called an “opening double.” Additional dominoes are played against the opening double, and then again on the opposite end of the line. Once all the players have played their tiles, the remaining dominoes are called “the boneyard.” This is the stock from which the players draw until they have a domino that matches the first one.

Hevesh is a professional domino artist who builds mind-blowing setups for movies, TV shows, and events. Some of her projects involve hundreds or thousands of dominoes set up in a careful sequence, each waiting for the right nudge to fall into place. She works with a team of artists who assist her in creating the intricate displays.

When Hevesh starts creating a domino set, she follows a version of the engineering-design process. She considers the theme or purpose of the design, and then she brainstorms images or words that might fit in with the overall concept. She then sketches out her idea and creates a domino layout on the computer to visualize how it will look when finished.

Hevesh has a knack for storytelling, and her setups are not only stunning to behold, but they’re also a great example of the domino effect. When you tip the first domino ever-so-slightly, it releases all of its potential energy, and some of that energy is transferred to the next domino in the line, providing the push needed for it to topple as well. This is exactly how a story works, too. Whether you compose your manuscript off the cuff or take your time with a carefully constructed outline, story plotting is all about knowing what will happen next and how it will affect the characters involved. Considering the domino effect can help you to plot your novel with greater confidence.