When Todd Papst visited Norman in 1998, he knew he’d found the home where his dream would come alive. The 31-year-old foundry man equated the university town to what Santa Fe, N.M. used to be.
Papst was raised in San Francisco and trained in the craft of bronze casting in Santa Fe. But his Oklahoma roots traced back to his great grandfather, who was a rancher near Duncan 100 years ago.
His search for a place to open a foundry finally led him to Norman through sculptor Paul Moore.
What started as a business venture between two friends is now much more, said Mark Palmerton, who had shared Papst’s dream since their days together as foundry men in Santa Fe.
It has to do with family, love and loyalty, said Palmerton, now co-owner in the enterprise with his brother, Steve and Gary Clinton.
Palmerton said he and his former partner complemented each other.
Todd was the brains, I was the brawn. I was his tech man. I was going to run his floor for him, says Palmerton.
It was Papst and Scott Adams, now The Crucible’s production supervisor, who prepared the business plan.
Papst persevered through multiple rejections from investors before he and Palmerton finally negotiated the partnership with Clinton.
After time off to mourn the passing ofhis friend, Palmerton assumed Papst’s lead roll in the enterprise to ensure their vision would not fail.
The project moved forward through the help of Gary Clinton and older brother Steve, a seasoned foundry man who is the backbone of The Crucible’s casting operation.
Mark Palmerton calls his older brother The Crucible’s guru who makes bad things go away sometimes.
I don’t think there’s another man that could do the job he’s doing, Palmerton said.
By spring 1999, The Crucible’s 6,000-square-foot foundry was casting its first pieces and construction of its 1,400-square-foot gallery was complete six months later.
It’s first exhibit opened in January of 2000 with the work of four Oklahoma artists.
The south wall of Mark Palmerton’s office is empty, except for a framed portrait of Papst, showing the dream he shared with Palmerton and his friends at
The Crucible is still alive. Just as Papst had envisioned, The Crucible now attracts artists from across the country with the growing reputation as one of the nation’s finest artistic foundries in America!
Pss….15 years later! Todd, my dear friend, we are still rollin’ my brother, through thick an thin, we’ve kept this incredible journey alive. With the help of great friends and people that believed in our mission….We miss you and there is not a day that passes by without you near our hearts & mind! Wish you were here so I could bear hug ya! Friends till the end 😉