STYLE

Meet "Bo-bot": White House Christmas decor has animated first dogs, 3-D printed ornaments

12/03/2014 12:31 EST | Updated 02/02/2015 05:59 EST
WASHINGTON - Christmas is going digital at the White House this year.

The holiday decorations unveiled Wednesday by first lady Michelle Obama include 3-D printed ornaments designed by students, tinkerers, engineers and artists from around the country.

"We've got some new twists," Mrs. Obama told military families who were invited to preview the decorations. "We got a lot of fun, new technologies."

There's an interactive installation in the East Garden Room that allows people to inject their images into a snowscape projected on the wall.

That's across the room from robotic animations of first dogs Bo and Sunny, known respectively as "Bo-bot" and "Sunny-bot."

Also new this year are two Christmas trees created from dress-form mannequins and showcased in the Vermeil Room. Designer Alexis Bittar created ornaments and jewelry for the dress forms, including necklaces made of Lucite ivory pinecones and vintage broaches.

Mrs. Obama declared this year's tree in the Blue Room the biggest ever, which may or may not be hyperbole. In any event, she said, workers had to take the front doors off their hinges to get the fir into the executive mansion.

Overall, 26 Christmas trees are on display and there's more than a mile of knotted ribbon in the robotic first dogs. The real dogs made an appearance at an afternoon event showcasing the decorations and the dozens of volunteers from around the country who pull it all together over one long weekend.

Children of military families got to pet the dogs and get crafty with the first lady in the East Room, decorating cookies. One little girl asked the first lady if she could make two because her brother was sick and couldn't come.

"You can make eight!" Mrs. Obama declared. "You can make as many as you want."

Some heavy statistics bring to life the over-the-top scale of the gingerbread house in the State Dining Room. It contains 250 pounds of pastillage, 40 pounds of marzipan, 25 pounds of gum paste, 80 pounds of gingerbread dough and 25 pounds of sugar work.

This year's theme for the White House decorations is "a children's winter wonderland." In the State Dining Room, ornaments that resemble Scrabble tiles spell out "Winter Wonderland" on the mantle.

About 65,000 people are expected to visit the White House during the holidays.

People will be able to download and print the 3-D ornament designs from Instructables at www.instructables.com/contest/ornamentdesignchallenge/

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Online:

White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/inside-white-house/holidays-2014

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Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac

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