The Crankie Factory


CRANKIES: STORYTELLING MACHINES! A presentation by me, Sue Truman, sponsored by the FOLKLORE VILLAGE in Iowa County, Wisconsin. This presentation is filled with ideas for making crankies from boxes and other containers you might have in the house. I will show a few one minute crankie videos as well. Terri Van Orman, Director of the Folklore Village, will host the live session. Bring your questions! Click on the link below to register.


You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: Oct 17, 2020 01:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)


This presentation is FREE, but you must register in advance for this meeting HERE


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.



My husband and I made this house-shaped crankie box. The scroll is hand-stitched and embroidered with materials I had on hand. I very much enjoyed stitching the scroll. It felt meditative and therapeutic.

Sept. 6th, 2020 - Hello! I hope you are staying safe and well during this difficult time.

I live in Seattle and my family and we have been mostly sheltering-in-place for the last six months.  We are fine and most grateful to the healthcare workers, and essential workers who are keeping this city going. Thank you and bless you. 

In addition to my full time work-from-home job and volunteer work, I am making short crankie videos about my stay-at-home experience.  It's like a crankie video journal. Visit my new webpage CRANKING IN PLACE.

Thank you for your support and take good care. ❤


Other Ways to Use Your Suitcases
July 25th, 2020 - All my wonderful crankie gigs are cancelled. My suitcases are unpacked but not put away... Part of the CRANKING IN PLACE series. Sue Truman

What's a Crankie?

Welcome! I am a fiddler, guitarist, stepdancer and crankie artist living in Seattle. Crankies are an old storytelling art form. It's a long illustrated scroll that is wound onto two spools. The spools are loaded into a box which has a viewing window. The scroll is hand-cranked while the story is told, a song is sung or a tune is played.  If you haven't seen one before, then a 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 19th Century, they were called moving panoramas (among many other names). They originated in Europe in the late 18th century.   This scrolling, picture art form is experiencing a comeback and I am excited to be a part of it. This website attempts to connect the old (moving panoramas of the 18th/19th century) with the new (crankies being made today by artists around the world).

To watch new crankies: click on the WATCH A CRANKIE page. In that section you will find crankies made by artists from the US and abroad. To watch moving panoramas that were made in the 19th Century, click on the HISTORY section.  There are videos of LARGE  and SMALL moving 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 exploring this site, AND I encourage you to MAKE A CRANKIE!

Sue Truman

Created Sept. 3rd, 2012. Find The Crankie Factory on FACEBOOK and You Tube I am posting a lot on Instagram under the clever name of SueTruman1015.


From the Netherlands, The Flipposcoop - Moving Panorama Toy from the 1930s

Thank you to the Koninklijke Bibiotheek for making this video available for all to see.

The  Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands, recently purchased a toy moving panorama from the 1930s, The Flipposcoop.

The main character of the story is Flipje van Tiel, the beloved mascot of a jam factory. He was featured in several collectables children could buy with savings stamps. Watch the video below!

Sincere thanks and gratitude to The Koninklijke Bibliotheek for making this available to the public and adding English subtitles! Thank you! Visit their website:


Katherine Fahey and Dan Van Allen performing at Baltimore's Sidewalk Serenade!

With most indoor festivals and shows cancelled, some crankie artists are taking to the streets! For example, Katherine Fahey and Dan Van Allen adapted their VW Bus into a performance stage, maging crankie magic during the Sidewalk Seranade event. Reservations were taken to insure the audience was able to stay a safe six feet apart! 

Another crankie artist created a DRIVE-IN crankie show.  Families attended in their cars.  It was a big success!

A puppeteer in Arizona adapted a vintage ice cream truck into an outdoor puppet show. 

Have you adapted crankie performances to the outdoors?  Tell us about it in the comments section.  🤩


Alex Vernon created this nautical themed-crankie. Watch below!

MAKE A CRANKIE This section is for those setting out to make your first crankie.  It's a compilation of pictures and tips from various artists:

From Takoma Park, MD, Alex Vernon, from the award-winning puppetry duo ALEX & OLMSTED, was commissioned to build a nautical-themed crankie box. Watch below and be inspired!

From Takoma Park, MD, Alex Vernon, from the award-winning puppetry duo ALEX & OLMSTED, was commissioned to build a nautical-themed crankie box. Not only did he beautifully design the box to go along with the nautical theme, he made clever innovations to make the box crank smoothly. WOW!! Thank you for sharing this Alex!


I took this picture of Elizabeth Laprelle and Anna Roberts Gevalt back in 2016? They were performing in a barn in a rural area of Washington State. A magical performance.

WATCH A CRANKIE - Over 100 videos of crankies from artists around the world.  Big crankies, miniature crankiescrow crankies and  more.  Thank you Cranksters for sharing your wonderful crankies!!

More Than Meets the Eye - The Magic of the Panorama - 2019

My article about the crankie revival has been published by the International Panorama Council.  The book contains 25 articles by International Panorama Council members and includes articles on 19th century moving panoramas as well.  It will be for sale through the International Panorama Council and Amazon. I will post more information as soon as it is available for purchase on Amazon. 

In the meantime, click on this link to see a description of the book.


Ha, ha. This is my copy. Coffee stained + dog-eared = well-used!

Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles is the book by Professor Erkki Huhtamo. If you are interested in learning about the history of moving panoramas THIS IS IT!

NEW WEBPAGE! See Erkki's collection of 19th century toy and souvenir moving panoramas.

Trila, Trila (Here he is, near to land)
From the Northeastern part of the US, this crankie celebrates community and safe home coming. The story is about a Scandinavian fishing village nestled below high cliffs at the edge of the sea. The villagers watch for the return of their fisherman. When they see the ships on the horizon, the gather to sing them safely home. Artwork by Cynthia Thomas, accordion and singing by Sunniva Brunel.
How to Make a Shoe Box Crankie
From Ireland, Vivienne Byrne made this very nice "how to" video - enjoy!