About Us


1996: Why the Name Carishei?…

“I just love it and find it very relaxing.”
Carishei canalware stall in Walderslade, Kent. 1996
Sheila & Michelle at Carishei’s first ever canalware stall at Walderslade Craft Fair, Kent. 1996

The unusual trading name “Carishei Canalware” is derived from the forenames of the three originally intended associates. Carol, Chris and Sheila. When trade was tough going I’m unsure why Mum (Sheila) kept going? Generally though she says it is simply relaxing.

My name is Paul and I initially listed just a few delightfully up-cycled items of canalware for sale.

Created by my Mum and Dad (John) Since 1996. They crafted these traditional ‘Canal Art’ folksy items from pre-loved vintage wares and sold them around various Kent craft fairs. Mum is pictured here with Grand Daughter Michelle at the very first craft fair in Walderslade, Kent during early 1996.

2012: A Labour of Love…

“Kent is not exactly known for it’s canal heritage.”

The craft fairs mostly made a loss. Eventually they settled at a solitary stall in the gift shop of Kent’s ‘Hop Farm, Paddock Wood’ but due to a restructure of this business in 2012 were pretty much surplus to requirements despite so many fans of their work.

Sheila at 'The Hop Farm'
Sheila at ‘The Hop Farm’ craft shop in Paddock Wood, Kent. 2010

That said, after the deductions for the gift shop margin and vat there was no real profit. In fact it seems to me it was a loss making labour of love really. To be honest, Kent is not exactly known for it’s canal heritage. I know of a short canal off the Thames at Gravesend but in traditional terms that’s it.

We do have some navigable rivers down here, notably the River Medway. There is also the Napoleonic era Military Canal on the east coast but not connected to the network. Let us not forget that much of the logistic support for the Napoleonic War victory was aided by the canals.

May 2014 Update: Carishei Canalware Online…

“reading some of the feedback to Mum over the phone has been quite emotional at times.”
Canalware at a 1996 Summer Craft Fair
Sheila and canalware at the 1996 Summer Craft Fair at Paddock Wood in Kent.

Mum (Sheila) and Dad (John) are not really Internet savvy and had a shed full of old stock. I thought I’d try to sell their remaining items online for them. Web design is my line through my business NetStyle Graphics so this was a natural step really.

Many of these hand-painted upcycled items are extremely old and some are antiques so certainly have all the signs of their age making them particularly charming. Online canalware sales have proved much more viable while not especially lucrative but, a fun exercise nonetheless. Reading some of the feedback to Mum over the phone has been quite emotional at times.

Dad did most of the hard work making, sanding, drilling, filling, repairing, varnishing etc. While Mum enjoyed the decorative painting. Obviously we do have this website but all sales are conducted exclusively through etsy.com/carishei now.

For a while our wall clocks were available on their Amazon listing but expansion on that platform proved far too complex. We don’t have high sales capacity for our buyers, so as a low volume seller etsy.com/carishei is much more suitable.

These delightful items make the ideal gift for any narrowboat owner or canal enthusiast.

September 2016 Update: Into the future…

“while able Mum is trying to pass her skills onto me so that ‘Carishei’ continues.”
Carishei supports the work of The Macular Society

Sadly Mum’s eyesight is deteriorating rapidly now through ‘Macular Degeneration‘ and she has lost the central vision in one eye! Carishei supports the work of the ‘Macular Society.’

Mum was still painting up until very recently but more slowly. Now reluctantly she says “to maintain the quality is too much of a strain on my good eye, so I must stop to spare it.”

Mum really gets a thrill from feedback so I hope this continues to work nicely for her. Items sold in the craft shop by nature never generated any feedback and Mum didn’t meet the buyers. Feedback and reviews for items we’ve sold via Etsy are always welcome. Previous reviews can be read here.

Medium sized tea caddy
Medium sized tea caddy ~ First of hopefully many new items in store. ~ Available

While she’still able, Mum is trying to pass her skills onto me in order that ‘Carishei’ continues. Furthermore I’m very thrilled she has recently approved my first piece worthy of her high standards. The piece is a medium sized air-tight tea caddy in black with roses on all four sides. I hope this will be the first of many to be added to the storefront.

May 2017 Update: Narrowboat Canalware and Me…

“I tried to copy Mum’s style but I find it easier to develop my own”

Update for May 2017 ~ Sadly Mum’s eyesight has deteriorated further and other health issues are now apparent and perhaps even more worrying. Recently diagnosed with dementia this cruel disease is progressing at an alarming pace.

Having now completed a great many of my own projects I’m really pleased to see her reaction to the items. I tried to copy Mum’s style but I find it easier to develop my own. The two styles are clearly different and my own is very gradually getting more relaxed, free and faster which is really the idea.

A time will come when Mum will not understand what I’m showing her anymore. That will be a tough day but, a way off yet I hope?

“a resource for everything related to the UK narrowboat canal network.”

Most of all, as a lifelong canal and narrowboat fanatic, my plan is to develop this website even more. The aim is to eventually make it a resource for everything related to the UK narrowboat canal network. In addition also it’s place at the birth of the industrial revolution.

By all means any questions can be sent using the contact form below. While you are here I’d be very happy if you could also give us a share. Social media buttons are displayed here for ease of sharing.

Thanks very much and warmest wishes to all readers.