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Mentor Tara Whelan

Expertise: Design, protyping and digital technologies. 

Personal Summary:

I have always considered myself first and foremost a maker. Within the Civic Works, my half-joking internal title was “Director of Stuff”, referencing my constant preoccupation with objects and the processes involved in creating them. I have a tendency to think by doing. Even when I am engaged in user research or facilitation work, I will always make something to assist the process and aid communication, whether it’s a model or a prop or just a series of visual sketches - whatever’s most appropriate to the job at hand. My professional career has been hugely varied. I have worked on product ranges for Waterford Crystal, been involved with the creation of architectural-scale fibreglass sculptures in Atelier Van Lieshout in Rotterdam, I have done community art work in Moyross, I have created interactive events for hundreds of international delegates with Pivot, I have designed and facilitated workshops with hundreds of people, I have redesigned business operations for a courier company, I have even worked making themed party props for a while. This varied skill set has always served me well. I have deep knowledge of digital fabrication and its potential as an invaluable tool for almost every kind of maker fascinates me, but my skills lie more in problem solving. I am not wedded to any particular technique so much as interested in which approach can solve a problem or grasp an opportunity. The question for me is always “What can be done and how best to do it?”


Mentoring Experience:

I am currently running a project with the DCCoI, helping six craftspeople from various disciplines to expand their practice through access to digital fabrication techniques. Outcomes have ranged from costsaving production techniques for certain parts, to experimental new approaches, to new product ranges. I have provided some assistance and guidance to Kate Oram in developing her pitch for the Harnessing Creativity project. Her proposal involves combining 3D printing with bronze sandcasting. I am occasionally asked to meet with craftspeople for advice on an ad hoc basis regarding making use of digital fabrication technologies - for example, Ariane Tobin, who integrates laser cutting into her work. I have run several workshops helping people with zero experience in digital making to create objects, through events like Makerfair and Trade School. I often give talks on the subject of digital fabrication, which are usually of a “How To” nature and conclude with an open clinic. My talks at Ideate in Kilkenny in 2013 and Fuse workshops in Dublin are good examples of this. You can view a video of my talk on digital fabrication at Defuse 2013 HERE.


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