Make: Dominoes

by Cat on February 17, 2009

This precious set of dominoes was made by Designing Mom Jackie for her two lucky boys. I know we all have paint swatches stashed in a drawer somewhere; it’s genius that she recycled them into such a striking dominoes set! Below is how Jackie set about creating these (and pics of her adorable 8 month old, Simon…just look at those eyelashes!).

DIY Dominoes
By Jackie

A couple of months ago, Gabe came home with a stack of 2 x 4 wood chips that I just knew were destined for something crafty. I decided to make a set of dominoes out of them since Graham (3.5 years old) is starting to be interested in games and numbers. Yet again, I was on a mission to use ingredients that could be recycled from the clutter filling my kitchen drawers. Here’s what I came up with:

I am always drawn to those free paint swatches at the hardware store for some reason; they seem to be calling my name. I love the color sequences, and the descriptions always crack me up: grandma’s sweater for sky blue, yours truly for a bubble gum pink, pure joy for a butter yellow. The names get stranger when you get to the darker hues: witching hour, soot, abyss, nugget. We have a bunch of these left over from various past paint projects so they were the first things I grabbed.

I also wanted to use something with pictures so that the dominoes could double as a story-telling device or a matching game. I used pages from this fun little book that I bought on a remainder table a few years back called, How To, which includes vintage images of how to do everything from baking a cake to wrapping an ace bandage to doing the butterfly stroke.

Here’s what you will need to make a set of your own:

1) 28 wood or cardboard pieces (you can make them any size you like)
2) sharpie
3) ruler
4) jar of mod podge (I like the matte one, but it also comes in glossy)
5) smallish paint brush

6) exacto knife or scissors
7) paint swatches, wrapping paper, newspaper, vintage book, art paper, etc.

I recommend doing the lines and dots for the dominoes first (in case they smear or are crooked). I did these by hand with a ruler and a sharpie so they look very handmade. If you are more of a perfectionist about these kinds of things, you could use rub-on decals instead. For the back of the tiles, I experimented with the colors and the images until I came up with pairings that I liked. Once those were set, I trimmed down the paint swatches and pictures, then painted on the mod podge to adhere the paper to the wood. It dries pretty quickly and the surface is surprisingly smooth. Mod podge is pretty much an instant gratification product. I love it.

With two little kids, I found this to be a project that I had to start and stop a few times over the course of the week. To keep track of the pieces that I completed, I kept a little tally sheet in the bag with all my supplies.

Graham and Simon were drawn to these as soon as I laid them on the carpet for them to explore (though I do not recommend these as teething toys!) so I guess I’m not the only one around here that has a thing for those paint swatches…

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna February 18, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Such a fun project!


amanda/flickr February 18, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Cat, I didn’t know you had this, congrats! I’m not even close to being a mommy but I love the blog already.


Tori Higa Stationery February 18, 2009 at 11:52 pm

congratulations on being posted on d*s today – this is such a great project! so creative and is definitely designed for both the parents AND the kids. 🙂


jackie February 19, 2009 at 1:52 am

thanks! my five seconds of blog fame…


Aaron February 19, 2009 at 6:09 am

The dominos are a great idea.
Do you have any idea what to do with old beat-up hockey sticks?


elly February 19, 2009 at 6:19 am

Hi Jackie, thanks so much for introducing us to this terrific site. What a wonderful bunch of designing mothers you all are! Oh If only I had had this sort of network when my children were youngsters!! Keep up the great work.

Cheers, Elaine of ‘ellynelly’


shinmin February 19, 2009 at 6:02 pm

I need to get my hands on some wood slabs. Jackie is one of the most creative people I know. You should all see her little studio under her house! Tight and cozy, and so inspiring. So glad you’re here on our team Jackie. And big cheers to the design sponge mention!


suziwollman February 21, 2009 at 11:09 am

Aaron, did you think of making stick horses out of those hockey sticks? The curve would be the perfect armature for a fabric, paper mache, or other media horse head! Let me know if you do it!



suziwollman February 21, 2009 at 11:11 am

Aaron, did you think about using those hockey sticks to make stick horses? The curve would make a perfect armature for a fabric, paper mache or other media horse head. Let me know if you do it!


fabio March 1, 2009 at 9:40 am

Beautiful, inspiring and very well done idea!! Ciao 🙂


Lisa March 3, 2009 at 6:47 pm

These are so cute! I think I may need to put together a domino set for the cabin. Thank you for the great idea! I hope G is loving them, even if they are only used for construction projects this year.


Maria December 11, 2009 at 10:45 pm

Congratulations! Now I am a firm believer that being a mom brings out the artistry in all of us! Also, I am keen over what kind of mom I will be three months from now! I will be following your blog from now on for more exciting inputs! Thanks!


Ed Hardy Perfume March 9, 2010 at 12:38 am

WOW! Being a mom sure requires artistry, and seeing the wonderful creations we have here is truly inspiring!


Investment Policy Statement March 13, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Great project.
Being creative and being a mom is that not difficult, after all.


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