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My Domino Obsession: Crafting With Dominoes

Updated on May 17, 2020
Marcy Bialeschki profile image

Marcy is a school counselor at an alternative school in Illinois. Other than education and her family, her passion has always been writing.

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My all-time favorite creation. This statement necklace was made from miniature dominoes and an antique button. I should have kept it!Special request wine glass charms.Domino ornamental book.Another statement necklace.
My all-time favorite creation. This statement necklace was made from miniature dominoes and an antique button. I should have kept it!
My all-time favorite creation. This statement necklace was made from miniature dominoes and an antique button. I should have kept it!
Special request wine glass charms.
Special request wine glass charms.
Domino ornamental book.
Domino ornamental book.
Another statement necklace.
Another statement necklace.

The Beginning of My Fascination with Dominoes

About ten years ago, I saw a box of wooden dominoes at a flea market for $3.00. As I was looking at the box, the man selling them said, "Sorry, Ma'am, but I don't think that's a full set." I knew enough about bargaining at flea markets to respond, "Would you take $2.00 then?"

"Sure," he replied. And this single action was the start of a weird attraction that initially bred a considerable collection. Today, my collection has dwindled due to crafting as well as a slowed pursuit of the little wooden gems. At one point, I would say I had close to a dozen different styles and well over a thousand in number.

Early on, I used many of my dominoes to make jewelry pieces that I sold at craft shows and online. The jewelry niche is lucrative but challenging to maintain long-term. Just making one piece sometimes took days. Then I discovered my signature creation -- Christmas ornaments.

For the past six or seven years, I have used a considerable number of dominoes to make Christmas ornaments that I sell at a large craft show in November. Each year my collection decreases by about three hundred to five hundred making these ornaments. I even have a couple of families that place special orders with new grandchildren names and other unique requests. I have one customer who usually buys most of the ornaments I have leftover after the craft show. She has one whole tree with nothing but my ornaments, and, of course, so do I.

Some of my stash. I buy all the dominoes I see at flea markets, antique stores, and garage sales.
Some of my stash. I buy all the dominoes I see at flea markets, antique stores, and garage sales.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

— Scott Adams
Some more of the collection. I particularly like the miniature wooden dominoes (right), but they are hard to find. As you can see, my supply is getting short.
Some more of the collection. I particularly like the miniature wooden dominoes (right), but they are hard to find. As you can see, my supply is getting short.

I've Trained Him Right

There was a period of time when I was going through dominoes at a reasonably good rate, so my husband and I were heading out on weekends to search for them. We would hit garage sales, flea markets, and auctions with moderate success. But there came a time I had to educate my husband on the specifics of a quality domino.

My husband sometimes makes fun of my hair-brained ideas, but the domino craft market was getting pretty lucrative, so he came on-board rather quickly. We would set out on Saturday mornings, searching for my little wooden nuggets. One time we were at a huge flea market, and he found a gigantic bag of plastic dominoes. He got all excited until I said, "I don't want those."

"Why not?" he asked.

"They are plastic. I want wooden ones."

So after that incident, I had him trained -- well, sort of.

A little while later, we were at an auction, and we separated to look at different things. When we met up, I asked my husband if he had seen any dominoes. He replied that the only ones he saw were the plastic ones I didn't like. Satisfied but disappointed, we went to find a place to stand because the bidding was about to start. A little while later, I saw the auction worker nearest me pick up an old box that looked like a domino box. Curious, I made my way through the crowd to get a better look. My jaw nearly dropped. He had a full set of Bakelite dominoes.

Quickly after I discovered what he had, they went in the air to be sold. I bid, of course. And I kept bidding until I could not justify the price for what I needed them for, so I bowed out. I made my way back over to my husband, and he was giving me this strange look. When I got to him, he said, "I thought you told me you didn't like plastic dominoes? Why were you bidding so high?"

At that point, I proceeded to educate him on the difference between the plastic dominoes and the Bakelite ones. Now, he knows wooden and Bakelite are good, plastic is not.

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These are some of the different kinds of dominoes in my collection. I love them all.The eagle domino is prepped with gold antiquing rub.Two more domino styles.
These are some of the different kinds of dominoes in my collection. I love them all.The eagle domino is prepped with gold antiquing rub.
These are some of the different kinds of dominoes in my collection. I love them all.The eagle domino is prepped with gold antiquing rub.
Two more domino styles.
Two more domino styles.

Creativity is intelligence having fun.

— Albert Einstein

My Process for Creating Ornaments

These days I have slowed my crafting to only the Christmas ornaments, which I love to make. I begin prepping the dominoes as early as springtime by painting or adding gold or silver antiquing to highlight the picture on the backside of the domino. I then start doing hours and hours of hand-lettering on craft paper. When I'm ready to start putting the paper on the domino, I use ModPodge and let it dry completely before adding another coat. After the second layer of ModPodge drys, I seal it with a clear spray polyurethane. I learned the hard way that the ModPodge has to seal the lettering before using the polyurethane; otherwise, the ink from the lettering runs.

After the dominoes are all decorated, the fun part starts. I mix and match dominoes and glue them together and add embellishments in some cases. I add the hooks and ribbons for hanging last. At the end of the whole process, I have three or four decent-sized boxes packed full. I usually only do one big craft show, and then the ordeal is over for another year.


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Domino ornamentDomino ornamentPersonalized ornament
Domino ornament
Domino ornament
Domino ornament
Domino ornament
Personalized ornament
Personalized ornament

2020: A Challenging Year for My Tradition

This year I have a severely depleted supply of dominoes. I am thinking about not making enough for the craft show and only doing some for my repeat customers. I'm not sure I want to be stuck with four boxes of ornaments if we are not allowed to have craft shows this year. Plus, I have not been diligent in buying more dominoes for awhile. I'm thinking I might just want to save the ones I have.

These are decisions I have yet to make. However, I can say that I have not done a single thing yet in terms of prepping for the craft show season. This year is shaping up to be quite different than most in many ways.

© 2020 Marcy Bialeschki

Comments

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    • sparkleyfinger profile image

      Lynsey Hart 

      38 minutes ago from Lanarkshire

      I love how you have taken something so simple and completely reinvented it using your creativity. You can definitely tell crafty types at boot sales - we are always the ones looking at the junk no-one else seems to really "see." Great hub.

    • Marcy Bialeschki profile imageAUTHOR

      Marcy Bialeschki 

      2 weeks ago from Cerro Gordo, IL

      Thanks, Liz. It has been a lot of fun, but I don't really have the desire to get started this year. I think it is because we probably won't be having any craft shows. But thanks for the kind comment!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 weeks ago from UK

      This is an unusual and innovative craft hobby. Your projects look great.

    working

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