The Crankie Factory

What's a crankie?

I made this image for a 2020 crankie fest that didn't happen! We will get back to that. For right now, everyone stay safe and take good care.

Welcome! I am a fiddler, guitarist and crankie artist living in Seattle. What's a crankie you ask? They are an old storytelling art form. Start with  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 then  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.

Crankies in the Neighborhood

The Seattle Children's Festival is part of the Northwest Folklife Festival, the biggest fest of its kind!

The Seattle Children's Festival -  I was invited to perform at the Seattle Children's On-line Festival, Oct. 24-25th, 2020.  I created three crankies, all filmed outside in the neighborhood.  All the crankies featured winged things: bees, chickens and birds. 

I collaborated with my next door neighbor, Doug Plummer, to make possibly the WORLD'S FIRST birdfeeder crankie! 😀  Doug is a videographer, birder and musician.  He did all the filming, editing, wrote and played the music.  The easiest crankie I ever made! See the video below.

Watch the whole 20 minute show here!

Bird Feeder Crankie
A collaboration between crankie artist Sue Truman and birder, videographer and musician Doug Plummer.


I designed this house-shaped crankie box with doors.

November 10th, 2020 - Hello! I hope you are staying safe and sane during this difficult, scary time.

Gratefully, my family and I are well. We are able to work from home and feel lucky to be able to do that. Heartfult gratitude to the healthcare workers and other essential workers who are taking care of us and keeping the city going.  

My crankie art has been a comfort to me and I have been creating like a women possessed!   To see what I have been up to,  visit my new webpage CRANKING IN PLACE.

Thank you for your support and take good care. ❤


Interviewed by the John C. Campbell Folk School

The John C. Campbell Folk School is a very special place. Established in 1925, they will be celebrating their centennial in a few years!

I had the great honor to teach crankie-making last year at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC.  I was scheduled to teach again fall of 2020 but we all know what happened to that plan!

As part of their annual giving campaign, local artist Cory Marie Polielski made a beautiful crankie which takes you on a tour of the campus grounds.    Scroll down the page to  read an interview with me.


I commissioned Andrea Marcos to create this lino cut for me.

CRANKIES: STORYTELLING MACHINES! A presentation by me, Sue Truman, sponsored by the FOLKLORE VILLAGE in Iowa County, Wisconsin. The presentaton was Oct. 17th, 2020 and we had a wonderful turnout. Thank you to all who attended.

The presentation was recorded. I will post the recording here as soon as it becomes available which should be around mid November.

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! Visit their website:


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.

OVER 100 CRANKIE VIDEOS FROM ARTIST AROUND THE WORLD.  Large, small, crow crankies, crankies + shadow puppetry, crankies made by children and more. CLICK HERE AND ENJOY!

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. To order a copy from the International Panorama Coucil, CLICK ON THIS LINK and follow the directions.   Please note for those in the US, the book will be shipped from Europe.


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.