The Art of Dominos

Dominos are a fun way to pass the time and make an otherwise mundane activity a little more interesting. While they are most commonly used for playing positional games, they can be employed in other types of games as well.

Historically, domino sets were made from bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), ivory or dark hardwoods such as ebony with contrasting black or white pips inlaid on each face. Today, domino sets are most commonly made from polymer materials such as melamine or plastic. However, there are still some set manufacturers that use natural materials such as wood, marble, stone or even ceramic clay for a more unique look and feel.

The earliest record of dominoes dates back to the mid-18th century. The word itself probably came from an earlier sense of the word domino, which referred to a long, hooded cloak worn together with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade ball. It may also have been derived from the word dominus, meaning “lord” or “master,” as dominoes were originally used for blocking games.

Most modern dominoes are made from a polymer called phenol formaldehyde or melamine, which is an odorless, durable and water resistant resin. They are typically coated with a clear, glossy finish for protection. In some cases, they are also decorated with a painted design or logo and come in a variety of colors and styles to appeal to a wide range of consumers.

The domino effect is a fascinating phenomenon that occurs when a single, small item causes several larger items to fall over in rapid succession. It’s the reason that a domino can knock over an entire line of bricks if it’s struck just right. This principle can be applied to many different scenarios, and it’s the inspiration behind many of the domino setups created by Lily Hevesh, a 20-year-old who has become a professional domino artist with more than 2 million YouTube subscribers.

Hevesh creates her mind-blowing domino setups using a variation of the engineering-design process. First, she considers the theme or purpose of the installation she’s working on. Then she brainstorms images and words she might want to use in the design. Finally, she begins by drawing tiles from the stock, if necessary. Depending on the rules of the specific game being played, some of these tiles may be bought (see Passing and Byeing) or added to a player’s score at the end of the game. The player who draws the highest-numbered double or a double in the stock starts play. In the event of a tie, the winner of the last game played may open the next game. If no one holds a double, the player who placed the last tile in that game takes the first turn. This player is sometimes referred to as the setter, downer or lead.