How Domino Layout Artist Alyssa Hevesh Gets Creative With Dominoes

Domino, from the Latin domino meaning “tablet,” is a gaming system that consists of a series of flat tiles each bearing from one to six pips or dots. There are 28 dominoes in a standard set, although larger sets exist for more elaborate games. Dominoes can be used in a variety of ways to play different games, but the most popular are layout games and blocking or scoring games. The most common type of Domino layout game is double six, where the player wins by laying tiles in a line or angular pattern touching only one end of each tile (i.e., a line of one’s touches a line of two’s, or a line of five’s touches a line of three’s).

When Hevesh starts her work, she begins by drawing out her design on paper. Then she builds a test version of each section, using a video camera to film the process in slow motion. This way, she can make precise corrections if needed. After all of the sections are tested and perfected, she brings them together. Each installation can include straight or curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, stacked walls, and 3-D structures like towers and pyramids.

She often uses the same pieces to create her designs, but she lays them out differently each time. When creating a complex layout, Hevesh pays special attention to the physics of how the pieces will fall. She explains, “Dominoes have inertia, so they resist falling until some outside force comes along and pushes them.” A slight nudge can cause a thousand or more dominoes to topple in a carefully sequenced performance before an audience of fans.

Hevesh’s domino art is impressive, but she doesn’t take commissions for her creations. She prefers to do them for her own enjoyment and for the challenge. “When I’m making something for myself, I’m able to get so much more creative,” she says. “I want to push the limits of what can be done with domino.”

The same goes for writing a novel. Whether you write off the cuff or follow a detailed outline, plotting your story is all about reaction and how it influences the next event in your narrative. Considering the domino effect can help you shape your plot and make it more compelling.

While domino is usually made of polymer materials, there are sets that are handmade from other natural materials such as bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl or MOP), ivory, or a dark hardwood such as ebony. These are typically more expensive than sets made of polymer, but they offer a unique look and feel to the product. They are also a fun alternative for those who want to bring the feel of nature to their home or office.