The Crankie Factory


Northwest Folklife Festival 2015 - Memorial Day weekend.  CRANKIE FEST on Saturday, May 23rd, 2:00 to 3:00 @ Centerhouse Theatre. Performers: Charmaine Slaven,  Dejah Leger,  Gregory Johnson and Gaelic Crankie Show.  Free - but making a donation to the festival would be wonderful. Hope you can make it!

See more of the line-up below.

Charmaine Slaven and Charlie Beck premiere their first crankie "The Pigeon". Charmaine has created the first ever (as far as I know) crankie box with a foot pedal that cranks the scroll (so that she can still sing and play guitar)! Check out their band website

Dejah Leger with Louis Leger

The Seattle Times wrote a wonderful article about Dejah Leger's crankies.  Read it here.

Dejah makes beautiful paper-cut crankies using French Canadian songs and folklore.  Louis Leger, her father-in-law made the crankie box and is the crankist!  I can't wait to see what they have cooked up for the show.

Gregory Johnson, PhD is a climate change scientist. In his spare time he paints watercolors and writes haiku to accompany them. He has brought all these things together in a crankie that summarizes the 2013 International Report on Climate Change.
I have made two new crankies from Tyvek. Machine cut/handcut images from black Tyvek + torn tissue paper glued to white Tyvek. I will be accompanied by the Rich Hill singing Scottish Gaelic song and Skye RIchendrfer on the small Scottish pipes. Julia Derby will be cranking while I maneuver the shadow puppets. Lucky me to have such talented friends to help me!

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


Make a Crankie!  This section is for those of you setting out to make your first crankie.  It's a compilation of pictures and tips from various artists. It's still a work in progress but there is a lot of information there to get you started!

Anna and Elizabeth are on tour!   They are touring throughout  the US, Canada and Europe, spreading magic along the way.  Check out their schedule here !

Watch their crankies here.

They are amoung the very best. Move mountains if you have to, but go see them!



The Painters' Panorama: Narrative, Art and Fairth in the Moving Panorama of Pilgrim's Progress. The book by Jessia Skwire Routhier, Kevin Avery and Thomas Hardiman Jr. is scheduled to be released in May 2015. I'm excited!  This is a great story of a 19th century moving panorama, thought to be lost.  Rediscovered and restored.  Read more about the panorama  here at The Crankie Factory's "Pilgrim's Progress" page or click on the link above to visit the Saco Museum's website.

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, 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 - Separate panels of this 1850s moving panorama are on display at the St. Louis Museum of Art as part of the Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the West exhibit Feb. 22 - May 17th, 2015.   The first  link above is a time lapse video of a crew setting up one scene of the moving panorama.  It makes me wonder how the 19th century moving panorama showmen managed to transport these huge scrolls and set them up without the help of today's technology?

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:
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:
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:

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.

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 Check it out!

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