Lindsay Lawlor and Russell the Giraffe bring a smile to President Obama's face this morning at the White House Maker Faire.

Lindsay Lawlor and Russell the Giraffe bring a smile to President Obama’s face this morning at the White House Maker Faire.

Russell the Electric Giraffe has a spotless Maker Faire Bay Area attendance record, going all the way back to 2006. That’s pretty remarkable, especially when you consider that he weighs 2,200 pounds and lives 500 miles away.

Given that he’s such an iconic participant in the flagship Maker Faire, it seems only fitting that Russell was invited to the very first White House Maker Faire this morning, along with his creator, Lindsay Lawlor, and programmer, Russell Pinnington.

Lindsay and Russell in 2011.

Lindsay and Russell in 2011.

Lawlor, a California native, originally built the 17-foot-tall walking, talking giraffe in 2005 for Burning Man, but the friendly robotic giraffe quickly became an in-demand guest at technology shows, educational events, and parades. With music and room for six people to ride on top, it’s not hard to see why. On top of walking, talking, and rolling, Russell sparkles, shines, and plays music! His horns are made from sparkly lava lamps. And Lawlor continues to evolve and refine “The Electric Giraffe Project” design each year, with the help of Pinnington.

President Obama mentioned Russell the Giraffe in his speech this morning:

Before I begin, I have to ask: What on Earth have you done to my house? I mean, there’s a mobile factory on the side lawn, there’s a robotic giraffe, there’s a giant red weather balloon in the rose garden. There’s a papercraft dinosaur head in the hallway.

Over here is a 3D-printed sculpture of my State of the Union address. [He indicates toward a 3D-printed soundwave sculpture.] Clearly there could have been some edits over there. The sculpure clearly goes on too long.

See the evolution of Russell the Giraffe over the years.

The White House Vined Russell!

Lawlor, Pinnington, and Russell the Giraffe on the White House lawn this morning:

Make: founder and CEO Dale Dougherty standing up when President Obama called him out in his speech this morning at the White House Maker Faire.

Make: founder and CEO Dale Dougherty stands up as President Obama calls him out in his speech this morning at the White House Maker Faire.


President Obama is hosting the first-ever White House Maker Faire to recognize the contributions of makers who bring creativity and technical ability to a broad range of projects. If you are a maker or a friend of makers, please become an advocate for expanding opportunities for making and makers in your community.

To show your support for growing the maker community, we encourage you to sign the “Building Maker Communities” pledge and put yourself on the map!

Laura Cochrane

Laura Cochrane

I’m a DIY editor at Instructables and I used to be an editor at MAKE and CRAFT. I like hiking, biking, rock climbing, and etymology.

  • lemfugitt

    The video status is set to ‘private’… :(

    • Laura Cochrane

      The White House changed the privacy setting on that video, sorry! I popped in a new video of Lindsay and Russell getting interviewed on the White House lawn.

  • ssn612

    Thanks Obama!

  • onceanewyorker

    Reblogged this on Onceanewyorker's Blog.

  • Josephine Pleasant

    And the reason the Giraffe is called Russell and why the
    President asked about its British accent? Well it’s because a Brit named
    Russell at a UK travel company helped build the electronics in his spare time…