Making the Glass Inserts for the Gate

Glass inserts were Bluebonnet flowers and Monarch butterflies.  We used Bullseye glass to make them.  Here my daughter, Susannah, works on installing a Bluebonnet.
Each insert was approximately 1" thick, composed of 8 to 10 layers plus some color elements.,  For the Bluebonnets, generally two layers were fused with beads on top as color elements in the first stage of the process. Then four of these were assembled in a mold and fused to make the insert.  For beads, we used two colors of blue, and one neodymium glass that varied in color from light blue to white to light pink depending on lighting.
bead melt overlay
bluebonnets cooking
Thousands of beads were needed for the Bluebonnets.  They were cut as small squares or rectangles.  Then , in the kiln, as they melted, surface tension caused them to "ball up" into beads.  The image above is an overlay to show the "ghost" of the original cut shape together with the bead that it made.
The bulk of the fusing was done with kiln space rented from Wheaton Arts in Millville, NJ.  This images shows five Bluebonnets cooking.  These molds for the second fuse were constructed of Bullseye vermiculite board and held together with stainless steel screws.  We had good success with this board for molds, and also for light duty kiln shelves.  Although pre-firing the board in a kiln with top heating elements causes it to warp, we had no problems doing the same in these large kilns with side elements.  We experienced no warping or breakage.  The kilns also worked very well for the glass.
monarch final fuse
monarchs cooled
This shows six Monarchs cooking in their final fuse.
And this shows them after they have cooled.
white beads
Monarch installation in progress
Monarchs required a variety of mostly smaller white beads for some of their spots.  Because these were smaller than we wanted to cut, we made them by quenching glass, which caused it to "crackle" in a network of small cracks.  Applying a hammer to this crackled glass produced a frit that was in the right size range to make the beads.  We heated the glass to 900 F for 25 minutes, and quenched it in a bucket of cold water.  This is a potentially hazardous process, so we dressed in full leathers, and used a face shield and safety glasses.
One side of each piece had a "matte" finish because it was the bottom side in the kiln.  These sides were ground and polished at Glassworks Unlimited in Greenville, Texas.  We used CRL backer rod, Dow 1200 OS primer, and Dow 795 silicone to mount the inserts.  We used big cable ties to hold them in place while the silicone set.
Gate open
Gate closed.
Thank you to Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden; MKW + Associates, landscape architects; Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center: Glassworks Unlimited; and HC Beck, general contractor,  Thank you also to my family: spouse Mary Morse, and daughters Susannah and Heidi for putting up with me during the fabrication process, and Susannah for helping me install.  Thank you to Kate Graves for assistance in all aspects of the fabrication.  Thank you to Hank Murta Adams for much assistance with using the kilns at Wheaton Arts, and to Bullseye Glass for technical assistance.