The Crankie Factory

What's a Crankie?

Hello! I am a fiddler, guitarist, stepdancer and crankie artist living in Seattle, Washington.  What exactly is a crankie?  It's a panoramic scene, rolled up inside a box, then hand-cranked so that it scrolls across a viewing screen.  If you haven't seen one before, then a picture (or video)  is worth a thousand words. You will find hours of viewing on this site.

The term crankie, is being used now to name this very old art form.  In the mid 19th Century, they were called moving panoramas (among other things).  This scrolling, picture art form is experiencing a bit of a comeback.  I am very excited to be a part of it.  This website attempts to connect the old (moving panoramas of the 19th Century) with the new (crankies being made now by artists in the US and beyond).

 

To watch new crankies: click on the WATCH A CRANKIE pageIn that section you will find crankies made by me and many other artists from the US and Europe. 

 

To watch moving panoramas that were made in the 19th Century, click on the "Moving Panorama" section.  There are videos of large and small panoramas that have been filmed by museums, historical societies and private collectors. Heartfelt thanks and gratitude to those individuals working to restore and preserve this forgotten piece of our history.

 

I hope you enjoy looking around this site, AND, above all, I encourage you to make a crankie. You can do it!

Sue Truman

Created Sept. 3rd, 2012

Find The Crankie Factory on FacebookYou Tube and you can follow me on Twitter at SueTruman1

WHAT'S NEW?

Soundweaving: Artist Converts Folk Embroidery Patterns Into Paper Scores for Music Boxes. Hungarian design student Zsanett Szirmay had transformed embroidery stitches into music.  Wow! 

Carmontelle's Landscape Transparencies - Louis de Carmontelle was an eighteenth-century French  painter and garden designer. He painted a series of panoramas on translucent paper that became a popular source of entertainment at royal court gatherings. These rolled-up transparencies (rouleaux transparents) were cranked through a backlit viewing box, and were accompanied by storytelling. Some of the scrolls have survived and are housed at The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.  Watch a video of one of the "roll transparencies" filmed by The Getty Museum.  To learn more, check out the book Carmontelle's Landscape Transparencies by Laurence Chatel de Brancion.

The Trans-Siberian Express at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900 - A fabulous article written by Arjan den Boer, published Nov. 2014, retours.eu. In 1900, at the Paris Universal Exposition, there were not one, but two moving panoramas of the Trans-Siberian Express. One of the moving panoramas painted by Pavel Piasetsky survives to this day and is housed at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The picture is Pavel Piasetsky with his moving panorama. This is the most panoramic box ever!

Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley - This 1850s moving panorama is on display until Jan. 18th, 2015 at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, TX. The exhibit then travels to the St. Louis Museum of Art and opens Feb. 21st.  The link above is a time lapse video of a crew setting up one scene of the moving panorama.

the exhibition travels to the Saint Louis Art Museum, on view from February 22–May 17, 2015. It closes in New York at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from June 15–September 20, 2015. - See more at: http://www.cartermuseum.org/exhibitions/navigating-the-west-george-caleb-bingham-and-the-river#sthash.PxxyIU75.dpuf
After premiering at the Amon Carter, the exhibition travels to the Saint Louis Art Museum, on view from February 22–May 17, 2015. It closes in New York at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from June 15–September 20, 2015. - See more at: http://www.cartermuseum.org/exhibitions/navigating-the-west-george-caleb-bingham-and-the-river#sthash.PxxyIU75.dpuf
After premiering at the Amon Carter, the exhibition travels to the Saint Louis Art Museum, on view from February 22–May 17, 2015. It closes in New York at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from June 15–September 20, 2015. - See more at: http://www.cartermuseum.org/exhibitions/navigating-the-west-george-caleb-bingham-and-the-river#sthash.PxxyIU75.dpuf

Panorama of the Visit of Santa Claus to the Happy Children is a toy moving panorama from the collection of Erkki Huhtamo, Media Archeologist, Historian, Exhibit Curator and Professor at UCLA. This toy panorama was made by the Milton Bradley Company around 1866.  Also included was a script, small tickets and a poster so that children could perform it at home. Many thanks to Erkki for sharing this very rare moving panorama with us!   Visit Erkki's new website erkkihuhtamo.com to see more of his collection.

Behind the Scenes - Have you ever wondered what a crankie looks like from behind the box?  I did when I was starting out. Watch four videos of crankies/moving panoramas, from very small to very big!

Henry Box Brown  (1816-c.1889) was a Virginia slave who escaped to freedom by arranging to have himself shipped to Philadelphia abolitionists in a wooden box. He then went on to become a successful moving panorama showman in the US and then in England. 

Read about this truly remarkable story. Find out more in the book The Unboxing of Henry Brown by Jeffrey Ruggles.

Crankie Fest - East Meets West - September 2014, Baltimore artist Katherine Fahey traveled to Seattle to visit family.  Well, this called for a crankie fest!  She joined creative forces with Dejah Leger, Sue Truman with the group Podorythmie and Gregory Johnson.  See pictures from the rehearsals and performance.

Letter from an Unknown Women - A three minute excerpt from the 1948 movie. It shows a couple in an amusement park where they are taking the train ride.  The scenery that is passing by in the window is a bicycle powered moving panorama.

ON-LINE CRANKIE FEST - One new crankie added by musician and artist Pamela Wyn Shannon who lives in Wales. It's called Caravan Crankie Lullaby and it's her first crankie. Her website is www.girlhenge.com Check it out!

Polar Panoramas is a mix of historic information provided by historian and author Russell Potter (pictured here) and modern day interpretations of the artform from three artists.

Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles by Prof. Erkki Huhtamo has gone into it's 2nd printing and has received the highest rating "Essential"  from the American Library Association. If you are interested in learning about the history of moving panoramas, this is it! AND, check out his new website www.erkkihuhtamo.com

 

 

According to Fern, a crankie is only good for sitting on.