The Art of Dominoes

Dominoes are a game of chance, strategy and skill. The word is derived from the Latin domino meaning “little one” or “small one of little value.” It has been a popular pasttime since the mid-18th century and has inspired many games, puzzles and artistic installations. A domino is a flat, thumb-sized block with two opposing ends bearing from one to six spots or dots; 28 unique pieces make up a standard set. The most common dominoes are made of plastic or polymer clay, with some sets using bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or a dark hardwood such as ebony. The most complex dominoes are carved from stone (e.g., marble or granite); other natural materials such as soapstone or limestone; metals (e.g., brass or pewter); and ceramic clay. In the past, dominoes were often hand painted.

Hevesh, who goes by the moniker Hevesh5 on YouTube, began playing with dominoes at age 9, when her grandparents gave her a classic 28-pack. She became addicted to the satisfying feel of setting up a long line of curved or straight dominoes and flicking the first one over, watching the entire chain fall into place. She started posting videos of her work online, and now has more than 2 million subscribers. Her creations have been featured in movies, TV shows and events, including an album launch for Katy Perry.

Shevesh has also taught many people how to build their own dominoes, which she calls art toys. Her process involves making test versions of each section before assembling them into an overall installation, and she films the process in slow motion to ensure that everything works correctly. She uses tools like a drill press, radial arm saw, scroll saw and belt sander, and works in her grandmother’s garage to make her designs.

To play a domino, a player draws the number of tiles permitted by the rules of the particular game and then places them in front of him. He may then begin to play by placing a tile in the domino line, or he may choose to pass his turn. In some games, the players must chip out, or play their last domino, before the winning partner is determined. In other games, the winners are determined by counting the pips on the tiles left in the losing players’ hands at the end of a hand or the game.

In some games, there are extra tiles in the stock that have not been used. These may be byed later in the game, or added to the score at the end of the hand. Alternatively, a player may draw tiles from the stock to buy a domino.

The first player to complete his domino line begins play in the next round. The winner of the previous game may also open the next. In addition, the heaviest double may be played in the first round. The winner of the final round may be chosen by a random method or, as in some games, by the highest scoring tile.