Oh, Oh Domino!

I have been creating these altered dominoes for years. Once I got started, there was no stopping me for a while. I scoured the aisles of the craft store and found all sorts of things that could be glued to the back of a domino. I created domino necklaces, barrettes, bookmarks, magnets, keychains, name tags, party favors...oh, the list goes on and on. I made pins and necklaces for the holidays and so many people wanted them, my principal gave me permission to sell them at my school for $3.00 each - they went like crazy! I also donated some for a Relay for Life fundraiser and for our student council to sell at the school store. For a while they were a permanent fixture on most of the kids' backpacks at school. It was pretty neat for me to see that and I had daydreams of sitting on Oprah's couch gushing over how quickly my idea took off and how a billionaire investor begged to by the rights to them for a jillion dollars...but it was not meant to be. Here are some samples (about .1% of the dominoes I've created).

Click on any of the pictures on the page to see them a little larger.

There are various methods of creating these tiny little masterpieces and some people really take them to extremes.  If you google "altered dominoes" you'll find some incredible images. I have tried lots of different methods from stamping to stickers to hand painting to vellum overlays. The method I'm going to share with you now is the absolute easiest. Trust me. Seriously. If you are interested in the stamping method here's a tutorial I found with a quick search that's pretty close to the way I've done it. It's more for the advanced crafter and requires some specific supplies you may not have on hand and can be hard to find. I can share some other ways to make them later if you like (like the cool effect I came up with for the BMS baseball one above). For now, let's tackle this beginner level project.

For this method you will need dominoes, rub-on transfers, and a crystal lacquer glue. I love Crystal Effects by Stampin' Up, but if you check out the glue section of your local craft store you'll see other brands that work just as well. It's relatively cheap - around $5 for a bottle that will last you forever. The rub-ons can usually be found mixed in with the stickers. 

First, I like to use a sanding block or a piece of fine sandpaper and give the domino a quick smoothing. Just about 5 seconds is enough. It removes some shine and gives you a nice clean surface to work on. This is not an essential step, but it is especially important if you are stealing borrowing dominoes from your kids or the math center for this project. A little sanding and they're good as new! Just be sure to wipe off the dust with a dry towel. 

Next, I like to play around with the rub-ons and lay them over the domino to get an idea of what I want and where I want it. Then cut out the pieces from the sheet and place them on the domino without pressing down and arrange as desired:

The rub-ons are usually meant for much larger surfaces, so you can cut right through the design to get it to fit wherever you want. 

Use a popsicle stick (or your fingernail) to transfer the rub-on to your domino. If tragedy strikes and something funky happens to your rub-on during the transfer, just sand off and start over. It takes some practice to learn how hard to rub on the transfer and every brand is a little different. Again, I love Stampin' Up's rub-ons, they really sell superior paper crafting products. 

We're almost done! Here comes the fun part. You will want a latex glove now. Again, trust me, friends. You do NOT want this glue on your digits. Be sure to carefully cover your work surface as well. I could get my husband to chime in here about all of the furniture I've ruined embellished with my artistic endeavors, but I don't think this is the place for such hash language.

I place the glove on my left hand so my right is free to hold the bottle carefully. Squeeze a healthy amount of glue over the surface of the domino and let it run off the domino onto the paper-covered work surface. It's a waste of glue, yes. But even still, that bottle will last you forever. You can move the process along by running over the domino with a sponge tip paintbrush, but once you do, the brush has to be thrown away and that gets expensive. If you're saying you'll try the brush method and just wash it out, I have a bathroom sink to show you that says otherwise. So, now I hold, drip and wait. Feel free to move the domino around the get the glue all over. Add more where you need it. It's pretty forgiving. You can tap the domino on your work surface to get the glue to cover. A little trial and error comes into play here too. Once it dries (at least 4 hrs.) the surface is self-healing and it will have a nice even, shiny coat. 

I usually wipe off any excess glue on the sides of the domino with a paper towel, a sponge tip brush works great for this too. But again, after one of these projects the brush is trash. When I'm making several, I'll use the brush but for just one or two it's not worth it. This is what I'm talking about by the way:
I like to set the wet domino on top of another one to dry just to avoid having it stick to the paper it's drying on. The next step is optional. I always like to add a little bling. These are cheapy rhinestone stickers. You can find packs of them for a dollar or two at the craft store. I started with the brown and purple flower, but it got really closely acquainted with my glove, so I had to go with my second choice. 
While the glue is wet, set the rhinestone in the desired position and that's it! It will become one with the domino once it dries.

As a little happy accident, I realized that three dominoes fit perfectly inside an altered Altoid tin:

While you're in the glue aisle, grab a tube of this:

This is wonder glue. It's messy and the tube is awful and the cap never stays on, but it's worth the trouble. After you use it for the first time, just forget the cap. Stick an opened paper clip in the end and lay it on an old coaster or something. It's gooooood stuff. It will hold a magnet on the back of the domino  like nobody's business. 

One of my favorite altered domino ideas is this one below for a picture holder. How cute would these be as place card holders or to mark the food on a buffet at your next party?

If you have any questions, I'm happy to help. If you'd like to see more tutorials on the stamping method, just leave me a comment and I'll put one together soon. 
I'm getting pretty good at taking pictures with one hand!


  1. I just found your blog & I now follow!


  2. totally awesome. could you use mod podge instead of glue?

  3. Hi Adrienne - welcome :)

    Kori - I think there are people who use mod podge. I live in South Florida and I have a lot of trouble with mod podge not curing totally because of the humidity here. It seems to stay tacky forever.


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