Courtney lives in Asheville, NC. She works as an artist, Etsy vintage shop owner, designer, and as Penland's annual benefit auction assistant.
What years were you a core student?
Who were you a core student with?
My group was greeted by these lovely ladies:
Natalie Tornatore, Robyn Raines, Marilyn Brogan, Anna Child, and Sarah Loertscher.
We added three more ladies and the one and only boy to the mix:
Aran Galligan, Jon Shearin, and Kristin Flournoy.
Then we were very lucky to get a great group made up of:
Kreh Mellick, Andrew Hayes, Dana Fehsenfeld, Shane Darwent, and Alex Geske.
Are you still in touch with any of your fellow core students?
Yep. Honestly, I met some of the loveliest people ever while at Penland. It's really nice to sit down with someone who went through the same long summers, the quiet winters and the magic that was being a core student.
What was your best moment as a core student?
Sharing birthday parties with Jon was always really awesome. Hanging on the back porch. Learning to cook Natalie's famous array of "one-pot-wonders." Meeting Natalie in the hallway in our pajamas after a screech owl scared us. Sometimes, looking back, it's the really small moments that are the sweetest.
What was your worst?
I don't know that it is really the worst, but I never did so well with the horror movie nights. I would always duck into the kitchen to wash dishes during the scariest parts. Unfortunately, Jon and Elizabeth Brim would always rewind it to make sure I saw the blood and guts... part awful and part awesome.
What is your favorite spot on campus?
I didn't go there much but I always loved Leslie's office. So lovely.
One of my very favorite places became the field behind the resident glass studio when I worked for Devin Burgess after core. My sweet pup Mishka would run the whole field and stir up turkeys and whatever else was out there. Some mornings it would completely covered by robins hunting worms after a rain.
Also... I loved the fog on the knoll in the really early morning. I blew glass at 6am and the knoll was almost always blanketed by fog on the way in. It was also really wonderful to watch the sky slowing brighten from inside the glass studio.
What was your favorite meal at the Pines?
Fancy lunch, by far, fancy lunch.
What was your least favorite?
Lox and pecan-encrusted trout tie. Sorry, but it's true.
Do you still have anything that you made as a core student? Or anything that you traded for?
Lots. I have lots of little things here and there. One really sweet little bird Dana hung outside my room after a friend of mine passed. I was so incredibly lucky to be a core student with those guys.
What class you took had the most impact on you? Did you realize it at the time?
Mark Zirpel and Ben Wright. That class had such a huge impact on how I thought about glass. I thought I understood that then, but it has really stuck with me.
Is there something that you learned in the core program that you never expected to learn?
I gained such a sense of community from Penland and my time there. I also learned what is means to make, just how important it is to use your hands and how it can change the atmosphere.
Tell us about someone you met through the core program who you'll never forget?
That would be a really long list. All the guys I was in core with for sure. Sweet Natalie, who was a bridesmaid in my wedding. Devin Burgess, who took me under his wing. Leslie Noell, who I have measured all my other mentors against. Mark Boyd, who has an unfaltering spirit. Adam Whitney, who wins with the best Halloween costumes and the warmest heart. Big John, for the biggest hug you will ever get. Elizabeth Brim - a southern, rapping lady with a hammer. Countless teachers and students. Really, really wonderful people.
What are you doing today?
Mailing some vintage stuff I sold on Etsy, working on a logo design, packing for a trip to Spain, and getting ready to come back and work at the auction.
Fill in the blank: If I had never been a core student I would never have truly found faith in my own hands. I would have missed out on some of the greatest moments and people of my life. I would have never gone to grad school or worked for Devin blowing glass. I'm so glad I don't really have to answer this question because it would change everything.
You can visit Courtney's website at