Diversity & Inclusion
Nonprofits / Technology

A Baltimore maker’s 3D-printed Bernie Sanders mittens meme is raising funds for charity

Todd Blatt is creating color, 3D versions of the Vermont senator's widely shared pose. Proceeds go to orgs providing meals and coats.

Bernie Sanders and mittens, in 3D-printed form. (Courtesy of Todd Blatt)

In 2021’s internet, one of the landmarks so far has been the Bernie Sanders mitten meme, which captures the U.S senator basking in Vermont vibes at President Joe Biden‘s inauguration. He even popped up in plenty of Baltimore locations.

In a cross between sharing and caring, the meme has also helped to raise $1.8 million for Vermont charities, as “Chairman Sanders” merchandise sold fast in the first week.

There’s a Baltimore version of that fundraising, too: Local maker Todd Blatt is creating 3D-printed figures of Sanders, which are in color. And 100% of the the proceeds for the $23.99 figure will go to a pair of orgs: Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland Inc., which provides meals to people who are homebound, and coat provider One Warm Coat.

Blatt is coordinating shipping and printing of the “Chairman Sanders” figures printed and shipped. A Creative Commons version is also freely available for others to create on the Shapeways sales site.

“Bernie is all about sharing, and I really think that gets forgotten even though it’s so engrained into us as what is important in kindergarten. The 3D model I started with was shared by a different designer,” Blatt said, referring to collaborator Erik Andersson. “I modified his design to optimize it for the sandstone 3D printing process, as well as added the digital painting, which the 3D printer will automatically apply as it prints the parts.”

Blatt is no stranger to 3D printing projects, making everything from Star Wars props to face shields. In this case, we were curious, why is this one printed in sandstone? Turns out, it’s a good option for the color printing.

“I’m using a 3D printing service which handles the orders, production, and fulfillment,” Blatt said, referring to Shapeways. “There are only a few options that produce full-color 3D prints, and gypsum powder is the least expensive. Shapeways calls it sandstone.”

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