Meet Your Maker: John " Doctor John D" Dixon
aka "Doctor John D" (Doctor John D.’s Artifacts and Oddities)
We first came across John Dixon at Ironfest in 2017. The artifacts and oddities that he had on display were something straight our of a Victorian wunderkammer (Cabinet of Wonders).
John's has a great attention to detail and really captures the quirky aesthetic of scientists and inventors from the Edwardian and Victorian periods. While not everyone's cup of tea, his creations are truly remarkable.
So, without further ado, I give you John "Doctor John D" Dixon, Maker of artifacts and oddities....
1. Please introduce yourself… who are you, where do you live, and what do you make?
I’m one half of Doctor John D.’s Artifacts and Oddities, which is based in Sydney. Along with the Miraculous Mr Booth, we build oddities, props/replicas, collectibles, sculpture, mechanical art, props, and taxidermy. We also do fit-outs and decorations for events and parties at hotels and bars. All of our work has a steampunk, Gothic, or macabre aesthetic.
All photos were provided by John Dixon.
2. When / where did the love of your craft begin?
I’ve been making all my life, but I became more involved in the mid 2000’s when I was disappointed with the amount of quality Halloween decorations available in Australia. This led me to start making my own props for my Halloween parties - even by today’s standards those parties would probably still be considered as over the top. Jump to mid 2010’s, I started helping some friends with a Halloween event they were hosting at a bar in Sydney. As the theme was a travelling freak show and there weren’t many suitable decorations/props available on the market, I ended up spending a month on intensive builds of some traditional sideshow gaffs - Fiji mermaids, shrunken heads, two headed animals, that sort of thing. The entire bar was transformed into a circus tent, everyone was in costume, and the whole look and feel of the place was amazing. A couple of people even thought the Fiji mermaid was legitimate!
Customers at the bar were so amazed by everything that they started enquiringly about buying the props. Much of the stuff ended up being sold and I continued making. From that Doctor John D.’s Artifacts and Oddities was born. The rest is now history.
3. When / where did your Steampunk journey begin?
It’s hard to say. I think I fall into the same category as most Steampunkers, where it’s something that is appreciated or you fall in love with it even before you hear the term or realise it’s a ‘thing’. Since getting more involved in making through Artifacts and Oddities I’ve gotten more deeply involved in Seampunk as it lends itself to my own style and vice versa.
4. Do you have a Steampunk persona? Who are they, and what is their back story?
The Doctor John nickname was born long ago in a completely different context and stuck around for a while. It’s nicely traversed into the current hobby. The persona works well because it blends into any theme of any event whether it be Voodoo doctor, mad scientist or collector of Steampunk oddities.
However, usually I’m so busy making or building for an event that I don’t get time to put together a costume or get dressed up!
5. What does Steampunk mean to you?
To me Steampunk is a really cool aesthetic and immersive fantasy world. One of the kicks I get from building and decorating for a large scale event is that you can make it an immersive experience that brings in as many senses as possible. This allows people to momentarily put aside the day to day and step into a different world. Like when visitors stepped into the house of the Addams family, it was a completely different world from outside - every little detail was creepy or kooky (or mysterious and ooky).
Steampunk is another world that is so detailed and story driven that it becomes highly immersive and allows me another platform to deliver experiences and tell stories to people.
6. Where do find inspiration?
I find inspiration in story telling. Each piece I make needs be able to tell a story whether that be an implied story that the new owner can impress upon the object, or a backstory that I develop while making a piece.
7. What’s your most treasured Steampunk possession? Why?
There’s too many to choose from. But if I had to choose it would be one of the many mechanical marvels made by my friend and partner in crime/making, the Miraculous Mr Booth. Over the years he’s made me some fantastic wonders including speakers that produce sound through plasma arcs, a mechanically operated Ouija board that moves on its own, electric cooling fans that generate electricity from the heat of a candle (oh, the irony) and of course the obligatory problem light (a MUST for every Steampunker). If I had to choose one it would probably be the problem light as it was one of the first steampunk items and the attention to detail is fantastic.
8. Do you have favourite Steampunk musicians / groups / artists? Tell us about some of them?
Del Toro’s work across all of his movies is amazing - particularly the two Hellboy movies that he made. Another great example of immersive worlds and story telling with so much attention to detail. The Bioshock series of games is another world made by a very talented group of artists and story tellers, and another great example of stepping from the real world into an entirely different world with a deep aesthetic and culture of its own.
9. Do you have favourite Steampunk festivals / events / gatherings? Which ones? When and where?
Due to the nature of our items, it’s really difficult to pack everything up in the car and drive off for a festival or event - it’s also really taxing on the other parts of our lives. Over the last year we’ve been working with the great crew of the Dog and Monocle at Nowra - an awesome Steampunk themed restaurant down at Nowra. We’ve also been working with Blue Mountains Mystery Tours for their Mystic Halloween Dinner at The Carrington Hotel in Katoomba. The theme for this year’s dinner is Steampunk so the grand ballroom is going to be decked out in airships, cogs and mechanical marvels.
10. Where can people see / buy your work? (Yes, some blatant self promotion please!)
The majority of our items are being sold through the Dog and Monocle at Nowra. We occasionally sell items through our etsy store, but people can also contact us through FB or Instagram to talk about commission pieces, or get help decorating for an event or a permanent fitout. The FB and IG sites are also a great place for people to snap up an item they’ve got their eye on before it goes up for sale elsewhere. If there is something someone has they eye on we encourage people to DM us so they can buy it as soon as it’s done, or we can make them their own.
Facebook: Doctor John D's Artifacts and Oddities