The Crankie Factory


Right now I am working on the Staying @ Home crankie. I designed the box, my husband made the frame, then I finished it with feet, dowels, a crank, knobs and other details. Two more scenes to go with the hand-stitched scroll. It's about my new (temporary) life at home!

July 31, 2020 - Hello! I hope you are staying safe and well during this difficult time.

I live in Seattle and my family and we have been mostly sheltering-in-place for the last four months.  We are fine and most grateful to the healthcare workers, first responders and others who are keeping this city going. Thank you and bless you. 

In addition to my full time work-from-home job and volunteer mask-making, I am making short crankie videos about my stay at home experience in Seattle.  It's like a crankie video journal. Visit my new webpage CRANKING IN PLACE.

Thank you for your support and take good care. ❤


Other Ways to Use Your Suitcases
July 25th, 2020 - All my wonderful crankie gigs are cancelled. My suitcases are unpacked but not put away... Sue Truman

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.

Artist Spotlight - Kathrine Fahey

Matchbox crankie kits available at Katherine's Etsy shop! So cute!

I have been following the crankie career of Katherine Fahey since 2011.  This Baltimore, MD artist  introduced me to shadow pupptry and has provided inspiration ever since.

MATCHBOX CRANKIE KITS FOR SALE!! 🤩 Visit her Etsy shop to buy mini crankies! Katherine Fahey Etsy Shop

She pioneered the use of Tyvek for the crankie scroll, now artists all over the world are using it.   If you haven't seen Katherine's work visit her page on this website.

New Book on Moving Panorama History - Irish on the Move

Granshaw, Michelle"Irish on the Move, Performing Mobility in American Variety Theatre", University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 2019.

Favorite passage - a reminiscence from a 19th century spectator: My first theatrical entertainment - witnessed when I was a good deal less than knee-high was Jerry and Helen Haworth's Hibernica - a program that consisted largely of the Cohans and a panorama background on hand-cranked rollers.  A few seconds earnest twisting of the crank brought about a miraculously quick change of scene from the Giant's Causeway to the streets of Dublin to Lakes of Killarney and so forth through the whole gamut of Irish scenery - and the Cohans did something gloriously exciting in front of each scene: a song and dance, or a jig, or a reel, or a sentimental ballad perhaps...and their show was out and away the most magnificent thing I'd ever seen.

Visit the Crankie Factory's page on HIBERNICONS

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:


Join me for a crankie workshop/presentation!

COVIDDLE TUNES - I gave a one hour Zoom workshop on June 28th, 2020  entitled CRANKIE IDEA BOX! I showed 12 mini crankies made with materials around the house. It was recorded and I will post the link so you can watch.





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.

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!!

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 on Amazon. 

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


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.
How to Make a Shoe Box Crankie
From Ireland, Vivienne Byrne made this very nice "how to" video - enjoy!