Artist Lily Hevesh Turns Dominoes Into Art

Dominoes are flat tiles with one or more dots (also called pips) on each end. They are normally twice as long as they are wide and are stacked side-to-side on the table. The number of pips on either end gives the domino its rank, or weight. The heaviest domino is known as the double-six.

A domino is a generic gaming device in which many different games may be played. Some are positional, in which a player places dominoes edge to edge on the table so that their adjacent faces either match or form some specified total. Other games require the players to place their dominoes in a manner that will make the most of a given combination of available pips.

Lily Hevesh began her domino hobby at age nine when she received a classic 28-piece set from her grandparents. She enjoyed setting up the dominoes in straight or curved lines and flicking them to see the chain reaction that followed. As she got older, Hevesh started experimenting with creating larger, more intricate domino art. She has since amassed a following on her YouTube channel and created incredible domino setups for movies, TV shows, and even events such as Katy Perry’s album launch.

While the physics of how dominoes fall is complex, Hevesh believes that the key to her success is a simple principle: gravity. “When you stand a domino upright, it is lifting against the pull of gravity,” explains Stephen Morris, a physicist at the University of Toronto. “When you knock it over, much of that potential energy is converted to kinetic energy – the energy of motion.”

This change in energy from potential to kinetic creates a chain reaction in which each domino pushes down another domino until it comes to rest on its end. Hevesh says her favorite part of the process is seeing the finished product in action, but she also enjoys the planning stage – drawing out her designs on paper and then putting them together in person. Her meticulous preparation ensures that each element of her creation will work as intended.

When she is constructing an art piece, Hevesh begins with the biggest 3-D sections first and then works her way down to the smaller ones. She tests each section before putting it together, and she films the test in slow motion so that she can spot problems and make adjustments.

While the heaviest domino is the double-six, most people play with a set of tiles that are ranked from six to zero on both ends. In these sets, a domino with a higher rank is always placed to the left of a lower one, and the heaviest tile in a row is always the last one. These rules apply to both positional and positioning games. In positional games, the winner is the first player to reach a specified score after all the players have placed their dominoes. In positioning games, the winners are the players whose dominoes have the lowest combined sum of pips.