The Crankie Factory

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 living in 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.

NEW WEBPAGE - Peter Shumann

Photo by Randy McMahon, used with permission.

Peter Schumann, cofounder of the Bread & Puppet Theater, invented the term "cranky" and is credited with starting the cranky revival in the early 1960s. I wrote to Peter a few years ago and sent him one of my matchbox crankies.  I asked him how he got started with crankies.  At the time, he was busy getting ready to go on tour. He dictated a letter which his wife Elka handwrote and mailed to me!  Read the letter here.


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.  Anyhow, here are just a few examples with more to come. Stay tuned!

From Ireland - Crankie Island

Crankie Island is artist Peter Cran and super star Irish trad vocalist (my personal favorite) Cathy Jordan.  This particular crankie uses a Cine Nic "Sonoro" Projector/gramophone for the "box." It made in Barcelona in the 1940's. So cool!

Visit their website Crankie Island also has a Facebook and Instagram page + a YouTube channel. 

From Manatoba, Canada - Long, Long Moon

Leonard Podolak, master musician and founder of the Winnipeg Crankie Festival created this amazing crankie.  He is also the director of Home Routes/Chemin Chez Nous which has coordinated hundreds of house concerts across Canada.

The song, Long Long Moon by the award-winning duet THE SMALL GLORIES. When I first heard them at the first Winnipeg Crankie Fest, my jaw dropped to the floor.  Oh my goodness, we are talking powerful.

From Springfield, MO, USA, Lady Margaret

From Springfield, MO, Sandy Green-Baker created this stunningly beautiful and spooky crankie.  I will be writing more about this highlighting the materials she used and the unique lighting.

THIS JUST IN - here is a very well written article about it.  Crankies Come to Life in the Ozarks.


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:

CRANKIES FOR KIDS! Mission Folk Music Festival - 2021

I created this crankie workshop + crankie videos for kids for the Mission Folk Music Festival.  The inperson fest happens every July in Mission, BC.  But alas, this is 2021.  I was most happy to make this video.

Here are some other pages for kids on this site:

Crankies Made by Kids

Make a Crankie Scroll down to the bottom of the page for two more crankie tutorials

How to Make a Moving Panorama Show - 1910 article from the Children's Book of Knowledge. 


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!

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. To order a copy from the International Panorama Coucil, CLICK ON THIS LINK.   Please note for those in the US, the book will be shipped from Europe.

30th International Panorama Council Conference September 15 – 18, 2021

I will attend virtually for sure. The NBWM is one of my favorite museums.

The International Panorama Council invites scholars, artists, and panorama specialists to attend the 30th annual conference. It will be virtual and hosted by the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA. It will take place September 15–18, 2021.

NEWS UPDATE: I will be presenting at the conference - YAY! 🙂  I will let you know when registration is available. There will be several presentations on moving panorama history. 


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!

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