The Crankie Factory

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.

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. 

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

Crankies with Puppetry

From Chicago, Blair Thomas created four scrolls for "The Blackbird." The shadow image from one scroll to the next, 2010.

REVISED WEBPAGE - Crankies with Puppetry

Cranking Up the Magic: An Interview with Sue Truman - Honored to be interviewed  by Emma Winsor of Puppet Place,  a news blog out of the UK,  the hub for all things animated on stage and film.

HISTORY OF USING PUPPETRY WITH MOVING DROPS - Dmitri Carter from the Northwest Puppet Center shares historic examples of puppets used with moving drops.

The John C. Campbell Folk School - I will be teaching the week of Oct. 25,th 2020!

This photo is from the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina.

John C. Campbell Folk School - Oct. 27th to Nov. 1st, 2019 - My week at the Folk School was incredible.  I am teaching again the week of  Oct. 25th, 2020!  Come join me!  I will let you know when registration is up or contact the school.

NEW WEBPAGE: Crankie Workshops.  Come make a crankie with me!  Be it small, medium or large, read about it here.

MAKE A CRANKIE! New Webpage - Making Scrolls from Fabric

Check out the new webpage - MAKING CRANKIE SCROLLS FROM FABRIC.

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:


Caravan Crankie Lullaby by Pamela Wyn Shannon of Wales.

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!!


Ha, ha. This is my copy. Coffee stained, highlighted, 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.

The Moving Panorama of Abbie Burgess by Annie Bailey
From Maine, this very large crankie was created by Annie Bailey.
A Compilation of Shadow Puppet Work by Katherine Fahey
Waxwing by Erin Elliott and Alexandra Ramirez
Original song by Alesdair Roberts. Artwork by Alexandra Ramirez. Erin Elliott built the crankie box and is singing and playing shruti. Performed at the Saying and the Said's All Hallows Cabaret in Portland, Oregon.
Sue Truman 12/9/2019