A red-hot glob of molten crystal is dropped onto the unfinished stem of a wine glass before it's carefully massaged into a flat surface amid the whir of a furnace heated to 1,400 Celsius.
It's a beautiful and delicate dance that Brian Tebay has been performing with his father and mentor, Jack Tebay, for nearly two decades at NovaScotian Crystal.
The two men are among the founding fathers of Canada's only mouth-blown, hand-cut crystal maker, but now financial pressures threaten to shatter the future of their ancient craft.
"When you have a piece of crystal in your hand you know it's something special," says Brian Tebay, 43, sitting in an upstairs office at NovaScotian Crystal's production facility and showroom on the Halifax waterfront.
"I don't want to admit it to myself, that it might come to an end."
Earlier this month, NovaScotian Crystal was placed in receivership after announcing it owed about $2 million to creditors and could no longer afford to carry on.
The crystal shop opened in 1996 in a former fishermen's market, a few years after European makers of the precious glass began replacing their craftsmen with machines capable of producing more for less.
Noted crystal manufacturer Waterford Crystal of Ireland had laid off more than 1,000 workers when Denis Ryan, an Irishman living in Canada, lured a group of skilled craftsmen to Canada's East Coast, including Jack and Brian Tebay. Four other craftsman from that trip still work at NovaScotian Crystal.
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