The Crankie Factory

Online Matchbox Crankie Workshop, Sat. Feb. 19th, 2022 for the Folklore Village

Online Crankie Workshop, Sat. Feb. 19th, 2:00-3:30 Central Time. Cost is $15.00, all proceeds go to the Folklore Village Folk School.

I have all kind of things planned for this class.

 - You'll learn how to make the basic crankie box and how to illustrate a simple scroll and load it into the box.

 - You will see all kinds of unusual variations on the matchbox crankie. 

- Finally, you will hear historical information about designs and stories used in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Please spread the word and thank you!

Here's the link!

Love and Hope for 2022

Jan. 26th, 2022

Dear Friends, Well here we are again, back home! 🤨  I hope you are staying safe and well during this challenging time.  I am in hibernation mode but working on short crankie films, planning online workshops and cautiously planning in-person gigs and workshops for later in the year.  We will see!

Take good care,


Rayna Gellert is fiddling Sugar in the Gourd. It's from her CD Ways of the World. I visit my next door neighbor's chickens almost every day and feed them homegrown kale and collards.

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 from 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.

The History Section - Civil War Moving Panoramas

Panorama of the Union Army of the Cumberland. This is the opening scene where a soldier is saying goodbye to his family. Courtesy of National Museum of American History, Smithsonian.

In September of 2021,  I attended the International Panorama Council Conference (virtual) and heard a fantastic talk given by Dr. Gordon Jones of the Atlanta History Museum. He presented on the Civil War moving panorama  Andrew's Raid or the Great Locomotive Chase.  His presentation inspired me to look into Civil War moving panoramas a bit more and I discovered that there are five that have survived!

Click here to see this new webpage.


Baltimore Crankie Artist Katherine Fahey

Tin type photo of Katherine Fahey taken by Jay Gould.

 Here's a lovely article published 1/15/22 about Katherine Fahey, a crankie artist I greatly admire.

To learn more, visit her page on this website.


There is lots happening in the crankie world right now.  Maybe it's because so many of us have been spending so much time at home.  I have heard more than one artist say that it's time to make that crankie they have always wanted to make.  Here are just a few examples with more to come. Stay tuned!

From the US, Shadow Bird by Maisie O'Brien and Georgia Beatty
From Philadelphia, PA, shadow puppeteer Maisie O'Brien collaborated with Baltimore, MD fiddler Georgia Beatty. The combination of the shadow puppet bird with the Hardanger fiddle is magical. Check out their websites, and
From England, The Patchwork Quilt by Bronia Evers
Bronia Evers is a storyteller, designer, maker and puppeteer based in London, UK. Her work combines spoken word storytelling with hand crafted performing objects. Bronia playfully adapted The Patchwork Quilt by children’s author, Joan Aiken. Visit Bronia's website for more inspiration!
From Wales, The Story of Veti Grwca by Peter Stevenson
Master storyteller, folklorist, author and musician, Peter Stevenson, tells the story of Beti Grwca, a mischievous old lady who made love potions. Visit his website


Cardboard box crankie materials: box, paper, tape, markers, pencils or wooden dowels for spindles, clothes pins for cranks, a cutting tool to cut a viewing window. GO!

MAKE A CRANKIE This section is for those setting out to make their first crankie.  It's a compilation of pictures and tips from various artists. YOU CAN DO THIS!


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!


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!

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