As I shopped I asked Ellen about her business, how she got started, and where she purchased her ingredients. Ellen rewarded my curiosity by inviting me into her workshop for a special tour where she explained the whole process. She showed me her the large mixing bowls, trays, storage vats for ingredients, and special cutting machine. When I asked about how she learned to make soap, she replied that she had done a lot of reading, talked with other soap makers, and belonged to an online community where ideas were shared. She had perfected many of her products through trial and error, revising ingredients as ideas came to her for creating special scents. As she talked, I could sense the pride she felt in what she created and the love that went into every step of the process.
The hour I spent with Ellen was so rewarding, and I couldn’t help but make comparisons to writing workshop and how we hope students view what they craft as well as the importance of the process – purpose, a sense of audience, revision when things don’t come out quite right, hard work, collaboration. In writing workshop, our students are our Ellens, the artisans who create with love and pride.