The Crankie Factory

Sue Truman @ The Velaslavasay Panorama in Los Angeles, Sat July 26th, 2014

Hello Everyone!  I wanted to let you know that I will be performing two crankies at the glorious Velaslavasay Panorama on Sat. July 26th.  Can you help me spread the word to anyone from the LA area who might be interested?  Here is the link for tickets:

I will be performing two of my newer crankies: one about the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition of 1902 (where piper Gilbert Kerr tests the effect of pipe music on penguins) and The Lace Maker (a women who can tell the future by looking into an old piece of lace held up to the fire light).  And in the spirit of 19th Century moving panorama performances, I have made up some miniature matchbox crankies to give away.  Excited!!

Sue Truman

OMG, I love this. Ruby, from the Velaslavasay Panorama, altered this 19the century moving panorama advertisement to fit my crankie show performance this weekend!

19th Century Miniature Moving Panoramas

The  video below was one of four videos shown by Prof. Erkki Huhtamo at the Seattle Crankie Fest (2/23/2014). Extreme gratitude to Erkki for filming these very fragile and rare works of art from his collection and sharing them with us. To learn more about the history of moving panoramas, check out his book, Illusions in Motion.

Sue Truman

An Excursion Around the World
Manufactured by Joseph Walker and Co. of Birmingham, England. 1890s, from the collection of Erkki Huhtamo.

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" page to see some of the ones I have made.  Click on "On-line Crankie Fest!" to watch  ones made by other artists across the country.


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.  Click on "Moving Panoramas, Lg" and "Moving Panoramas,Sm" subpages to watch those.  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. There is no right or wrong here, you just do it and enjoy the process. 

Sue Truman

Created Sept. 3rd, 2012


Ivy and the Wicker Suitcase is a collaboration by musician Brian Beattie and artist Valerie Fowler of Austin, TX.  This 72 minute long show includes three beautifully drawn crankies by Valerie. Click on the link to view their tour schedule.  Watch the crankie "Ivy's Dream"  on the ON-LINE CRANKIE FEST page!

Blair Thomas & Company  - an award-winning puppetry company from Chicago.  Click the link above to visit the page I created about Blair's amazing crankies.  Or visit his website to learn more

Crow Crankies - a curious collection of crankies from  artists across the US and the UK: Dejah Leger, Blair Thomas, Katherine Fahey, Sue Truman, Joanna Hope Bricher and Alex Goodman.

Week-long Crankie Workshop - Aug. 3rd - 10th, 2014 at The Augusta Heritage Arts Festival,  Davis and Elkins College, Augusta, West Virginia.  Taught by Ellen Gozion.  Watch one of Ellen's gorgeous crankies on the "On-line Crankie Fest" page of this website.

From the Mountains: Hazel Dickens in Baltimore - Hazel Dickens (1935-2011) was a pioneer among women in bluegrass music. Born in West Virginia to a mining family, she spent her life advocating for coal miners and working people.  She received many awards including the National Heritage Fellowship in 2001.

This wonderful tribute to Hazel was created by Erik Spangler, Elizabeth LaPrelle,  Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Chris Owen. It uses two crankies (projected) and was performed at the Baltimore Crankie Fest in April, 2014.

Peggy's Story  This crankie was made by Siena Mayers in 2009. The audio portion is a recorded interview by legendary radio broadcaster and author Studs Terkel. He interviewed hundreds of people across the US for his book Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (published 1970). One of the people interviewed is Peggy Terry who was a migrant worker. She talks about being unemployed, bread lines, soup kitchens, homeless camps and racism. Thirteen minutes long, this crankie is well worth the watch. Inspiring.

BALTIMORE CRANKIE FEST  The festival was organized by Anna and Elizabeth (Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle)  April 12th, 2014. See pictures from this magical evening.

  Crankies Made by Children- Teachers, parents, kids - looking for summer activities?  Check out these crankies made by children. 

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!