The Art of Domino Modeling
Domino is a game that involves stacking small blocks on end in long lines. When one is knocked over, it triggers the next domino in line to tip over, and so on until all the blocks have fallen. People have used dominoes for centuries to create elaborate designs and play games that test their skill and patience. The word also has a less playful meaning, as in the idiom domino effect: an event or situation that triggers a chain reaction and leads to much larger, and sometimes catastrophic, consequences.
The art of creating intricate domino arrangements is called domino modeling, and it takes a lot of practice to perfect. One domino artist, Jenny Hevesh, has a passion for this hobby and has created some of the world’s largest displays. Hevesh says that the key to her creations is science. “Gravity is what makes it possible to have a domino display,” she explains. “When you pick up a domino and put it upright, it stores some potential energy in its center of gravity.” When the domino is dropped, however, this potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, and the force of gravity pulls the domino toward the ground, sending it crashing into the next domino until the whole chain falls.
Hevesh has a number of tricks to keep her chains going. She has learned to create the shapes of different animals with her dominoes, and she is working on an arrangement that will look like a giant butterfly. When she is finished, the entire setup will be made of about a million dominoes.
When she is not creating her own masterpieces, Hevesh helps teach kids to build their own domino designs and plays the same types of games with her own children. She has also developed a line of domino products, including books and games, that she sells on her website.
She credits her love of dominoes with teaching her kids the value of following through on tasks and being persistent in reaching their goals. “When you work hard at something, it really pays off in the long run,” she says. “If you try something once and it doesn’t work, don’t give up – keep trying.”
The word domino comes from the Latin dominica, which means “flip-over.” The earliest known dominoes were in China in the 1300s and were made of bone or silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl) with black or white dots that resembled the spots on dice. Later, European domino sets were made of bone, ivory, or ebony with contrasting color markings.
These days, dominoes are typically made of polymer materials. They are more affordable than the natural and wooden sets of the past, but some people still prefer to use them to play traditional games that require a greater level of skill. The games often involve positioning dominoes edge to edge in a way that the adjacent sides match or form a specified total.