How a Domino Artist Creates Mind-Blowing Sets

A domino is a small rectangular wood or plastic block with one end bearing a number of dots resembling those on dice. A set of these blocks can be stacked on edge in long lines so that when the first one is tipped over, it causes the rest to topple over as well. This is the basis of many games, and can be used to create elaborate designs. The term domino also applies to a series of events that begin with a simple trigger and lead to much greater—and sometimes catastrophic—consequences, as described by the idiom domino effect.

The earliest reference to the word appears to be around 1750, though the game itself is much older. The word was originally a French term for a long hooded cloak worn together with an eye mask during carnival season or at a masquerade, and the association seems to have continued when the game became popular in Europe, along with the name.

Lily Hevesh has been fascinated by dominoes since she was 9 years old, when her grandparents gave her a classic 28-pack. She enjoyed setting them up in straight or curved lines, flicking the first one, and watching the entire chain fall. Now 20, she is a professional domino artist who builds mind-blowing sets for movies, TV shows, and even events.

Hevesh plans each design in advance. She considers the theme, draws arrows on paper to show how the pieces will fit together, and calculates how many dominoes she will need. She then tests each section of the layout on its own to make sure it works before putting it all together. The biggest 3-D sections go up first, then Hevesh adds flat arrangements and finally lines of dominoes that connect them.

When she was just 9, Hevesh started posting videos of her creations on YouTube, and her fan base quickly grew. She now has more than 2 million subscribers. Her videos showcase her amazing talent as a domino artist, and provide a glimpse into the complex engineering that goes into each of her installations.

In her videos, Hevesh explains how she plans each piece of her designs before making them. She begins by considering the overall theme or purpose of the layout, then brainstorms images or words that might be associated with it. She then creates test versions of each section, which she films in slow motion. Each section is tested individually, and once they are working properly, Hevesh puts them all together.

To create her most recent installation, Hevesh built a giant tower that stands more than 25 feet high. It took her five weeks to complete the project, and it requires more than 2,000 dominoes to build. Hevesh says the key to her success is planning and being efficient. She plans each step of her domino art carefully, and she is careful to not overthink it or overwork herself. In this way, Hevesh ensures that the final product will be as perfect as possible.