Friday, March 1, 2013


Orienteering skills were rewarded last Wednesday evening, where the classic bush section of Jimmy's Beacon Hill bonanza sorted those working the low-fire clays from the stoneware compass kings. With many scoring returns indicating clay-mation rather than clay-motion, 'The Clay Pan' had obviously puzzled the punters, and delivered one of the years most interesting and controversial outings.

In a welcome break from SSS tradition (where we commonly see the field line astern across the scoring spectrum), there were tales of whoa, and tales of glow - as several fancies failed to fire, several mid career potters worked a pugmill miracle, and several more budding craft artists shook their heads as they watched their Ball Clay pinch pots slump in front of the judges. Although we didn't see an iceberg, it was a night to remember - or a night to forget. Let's huddle around the kiln as the pots are bought forth for evaluation by Pork Pie (the Milton Moon of Pyrmont).

Firstly, a new map in a completely new area for the Sydney Summer Series. This always adds a ting of excitement, and generally finds SSS types fingering a new O top - or ironing the socks - in anticipation. The Merchant of Venice is known to put up a top order challenge, and with the promise of bush, and the promise of intrigue in the 'clay pan', over 190 craftspeople fronted the Goanna, eager to display their wares. Let's look then at the event 22 offer, and run the eye over the results.

Firstly, the map. An A4 landscape presentation with Boral border (chief clay sponsor no doubt) at 1:7500 scale. This meant the full control spread (exceeding the 'Larry') should still be 'on' for the high flyers (or high-firers as they were known on the night), given fast work through the bush sections. With our TAFE classroom in the lower central portion of the area, students chewed their pan(tella) and slurped a clay(tons) as they adjusted their bearings. A decent collect of porcelain points to the east - including three thirty's. A difficult middle section that looked more pan(fry) than pandora. A nice opening 'throw' to the west that made for a good start - and the grand promise to the north that was the whole reason for taking the advanced classes. The north offered some good scoring, with the detailed mapping captivating the quality O students - fingering their thumb compasses for perhaps the first time in SSS. It also offered full and partial loop options and had the coil pot kids excited. The north also demanded close attention - and kilns set to Cone 14 for the best results.

Their appeared to be an even spread of clockwise and anti planners, with the clockies working 2,21,12 before the difficult decision at 25, then 15,27,7,17 - and either an early pull out via 28,19 and the classic 30-18 bagging, or urging their puggermixer on to 20,10,29,9 (8 was an easy drop here) and the reconnection with the maze and the stripy green claytonia. Given clean running in the north (not many claimants I gather), the return was a corker - with 6,14,26,5 and some of the thirty's before home via 11 or 3. The anti class tended to bag more eastern clays before ascending to the 18-30 challenge, and may have bailed earlier in the north as a result (perhaps 30,19,28,17,27 etc). Those that were nervous of the northern points could still work across the lower section of the map for a tidy 250 or so, and might have saved pot #1 from lonely status (my guess for this honour would be a toss up between #16 and #8 - or maybe the low battery number 4).

Look closer at some of the bush pots and routes. Number 25 was for many, the first real challenge, and yielded best along the cliff line from the northern track. Michael Burton approached via the green and lost many minutes scaling the cliff face - when he eventually got to it! This was a great 'suck-in' control, and only rewarded perfect navigation. It had that gain thirty, lose forty look, and scrambled the brains of early bravado's (PP avoided it). Number 15 was nice stuff on the bare rock, with the track providing fast passage on to #27 (one that Ted Woodley would rather forget - wasting 12 minutes searching). Many slow claims, and some no claims at #20 - where a bash through to the western fire trail yielded #10 and a good link to #29 - perhaps the control of the day, where the track network demanded very careful map reading - and the odd glance at the compass. Although the tracks here are all accurately mapped, there are glimpses of open patches along the way to throw the unwary off the scent. Is that a track? It was excellent stuff.

The amazing area around #9 had to be seen to be believed. This was Clap Pan central, where pan(cake) and pan(handle) created a panchromatic pantomime of humps, slots, hollows and hillocks to delight and surprise. Those that worked the lower crossing loop (28,19,30) missed out on the lecture of the year here, and can only wonder at what the man in the pan(ama) hat is on about. Next time.

Loved the #19 high point, and the superbly sighted picnic table at #28. Like last weeks 'chair', the 'picnic table' takes our understanding of everyday items to a whole new level. What a place for one, what a location, what mapping Jimmy! Having survived the pandemonium of tracks at #28, let's move on to the classic 30-18 leg - already gone down in history for it's flux quality, and the ability to anoint champions. Working down from the main fire trail, the clue was the rejoining small track on the bare rock - then in to the right and bingo. Many missed the bare, instead adding too much feldspar to the mix and continuing on the track and off the map. The 'Undone Gown' was one reporting major time loss here - as did 'The Queen Mother'. It probably was an easier collect from the south, coming along the rock line, but demanded map reading skill nonetheless. As did the subsequent route across to 18, where good reading and linking of the bare rock areas led one to a nice twenty point beep of the clay pipe. This area was just classic stuff that rewarded both the bold and the careful. 'Navigation on the Run' - that's the Sydney Summer Series!

Not sure how many looped into the mid section (13,4), although a link from 12 via the track, in-out 14, then 4,14 was a reasonable way to cross town if you were collecting the mainly southern street offerings. The east looked straight forward, although I notice a little contour colouring added some darker tones to the pot timing. Working 11,22,24 seemed a good start/finish - with #23 stretching the odds here. I like a cliff though, especially a west cliff. It adds an 'earthenware' quality to the display.

A great event, although another non-fiver. Things obviously proved tougher than anticipated, with 480 taking home the scholarship - and many of the guns off podium as mentioned in my intro. Let's listen in to lecturer Blakebrough as he delves into the qualities of hydrated silicate of aluminium, and spits out some stats and scores.

Not quite a full board, with the Junior Women's class cancelled because of a threatened tick infestation. All others on deck, with clay knives and lecture notes at the ready. Many winners as expected (Wa's, I's, L's, V's, M's etc) but some other potters worth a mention. How about Toby Wilson, offering a 350 degree fired porcelain 'Jug' to take the SJM win from the 'Watering Can', whose 310 was shaded by lost time at 20 (the claypan clearing) and #15 (the underglazed bare rock). Nina claimed in SJW with 240 over Ellen's 180, after coaching classes in hand firing from Marea Gazzard. In Open Women, Catherine Murphy takes the (pan) cake, streeting her opposition with 400 points, and leaving Claire (310) and Lisa (300) to review their kiln temperature. Patrik Gunnerson claimed the points in OM with 480 (the equal top score on the night), holding ten over Andy Hill and thirty over Mark Schaefer. 'The Ink Bottle (440), 'The Joss Stick' (430) and 'The Guillotine' (400) are also noted in this high temperature range, but minor flaws in their glazes have kept them from the medals.

In MM, Glenn still managed the win (the lot in 63.18), but nice to see Stefan 'In Tune' Kuehn, Danny Dohle, Lee 'Enfield' Coady and Matt 'I Can't' all only ten adrift with tidy 400's. Perhaps the biggest upset of the night in any class, was MM 'King', Richard Green's 320. I'd thought it might have been a massive over time outing reducing another high claim, but his 40.32 indicates otherwise. Mmmmm, must be a story here somewhere. Richard?

Last weeks setter, Greg 'Oil On Canvas' Barbour piled on 410 in VM, behind a delicate slip glazed 430 from Tim Rogers - and the aforementioned MB with his excellent 480 equal toppie. The Lithgow Pottery won with 360 in SV - ten on from enthusiastic attendances by Gordy and Ian Cameron, whilst 'The Legend' (Steve Flick) went ten better in the senior U3A class. In SVM, 'The Hand Spread' is an interesting study. Larry lost ten minutes at #29 (the control of the night), never finding it, despite several relocation attempts - including via #10, but ending up at #9! Adding to his 50.58 minute time on the pottery wheel, was another diversion - this time missing the exit to fire trail SW of #28, and going 28-6 via #7! Beautiful work from our Super Vet star. Heiko, despite losing time at #18, and returning to the classroom six minutes late, still held the points in the Legends - from Malcolm (270 to 230). Carol, Bryony and Sue all won, with Sarah Walker noted winning MW with 330 points - and getting a trip to where it all began - Mt Gaoling (Jiangxi Province in China), as a reward.

We had some interesting timing results - none more so than Stuart Deane's excellent full claim in 104.01! The dreaded .01 meaning Stu lost the lot. 600 in, 600 out. Dedication beyond measure. Tim 'The Slab Pot' Perry also rates with his 98.44 rendering his 510 cm stoneware jar a minus thirty. 'The Plum' is another over time student, with his 92.01 (another .01 beeper) leaving a minus 150 aftertaste. Our most popular score was 210 with eleven runners, followed by 180 with nine. Quite low totals, and well below the half way mark - as were well over two thirds of the potters in the room. Another feature of the challenge at 'The Pan' was the number of late back runners, with only 51 back under the 45. Much discombobulation in the clay seems the cause.

No 44.59 close shaves this week, although a couple of 44.57's noted ('The Code Cracker', 'The Gladstone Bag' and 'Linseed Oil'). There were a few just-over potters that will be annoyed at that second lost opening the jammed kiln door. Chris Cunningham, Shrav Malkani, Charles 'Track Work' Blaxland, Stu and Andy are the men in aprons here. Several Group's on the flog, with "Team Berko' leading the pack (220 points). Also noted were a group of first timers from Waringah Tri Club (if memory serves me right), hopefully enjoying the event after being given a detailed description of the highly plastic qualities of certain low-fire clays by lecturer Forbes. Welcome one and all.

That's a wrap I think. Some interesting scoring, and many tales of navigation - successful or otherwise. It was an event that will live in the memory, and around the bar over a tasty Reschs. Thanks to Jim and the Garingal team for something different, and a chance to remember the qualities of 1970's pottery. Next week we revert to a more 'normal' park/street offer at North Parramatta - where all assembled will rise upon Judge McQuillan entering the chamber. This will once again showcase the quality WHO team, and runners can expect a fast affair - James was that sort of guy!

But wait, there's more. I almost forgot to mention the Mosman MiniGaine on this Sunday. This is a three hour flogerooney where individual entries count for SSS points. 'The Woodpecker' has joined several harbourside Summer Series maps for this event, which should be one to remember. Think Zoo, think Sirius, think Balmoral, above all, think views, views, views (and maybe a bit of real estate). Sydney on show big time. A navlight thingy event, which you have probably already pre entered - for which the Teddy and Gill will be eternally grateful. Bring pennies for the tram, and a nice Peters Ice.

I also should conclude by mentioning the last couple of Sydney Sprint Series events coming up. Next Monday (if your not too buggered following Ted's Torture), sees the Flash Harry's at Balmain, and the last one on Monday 11/03 (Pork Pie at the helm) is at Glebe Point on a new 1:4,000 map. Expect fast and furious action at both these fun events, as a 'second' can be all it takes. Fantastic fun.        

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