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 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.


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 England, The Patchwork Quilt from 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
From Scotland - The Marriage of Robin Redbreast and the Wren by Sue Thomas
When Robert Burns was alive, one of his 'party pieces' was the telling of his tale of Robin Redbreast and the Wren. It was passed on after his death in 1796 by his sister, Mrs Isabella Begg, and subsequently published by Robert Chambers in Popular Rhymes of Scotland. Artwork by Sue Thomas. The story is read in its original colloquial form by Tom Pow. More information to follow about this.
From Ireland - The Story of Paddy, The Cockney & The Ass by Peter Cran and Cathy Jordan
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.


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:

MAKE A CRANKIE! Workshop for Festival du Bois - 2021
I created this video for the online version of Festival du Bois which took place in April 2021. It is held in Coquitlam (Maillardville) British Colombia and is one of the best west coast festivals. Hope you enjoy and visit their website to see more:


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.

History! Pandemic Panoramas from 1849

Moving panorama historian Suzanne Wray recently ran across this apt quote. It refers to Henry Lewis's Mississippi moving panorama.

Visit THE HISTORY SECTION for 32 pages of 19th century moving panorama greatness! Small, medium and humongous.

Mixing Miniatures with Crankies

Although I have not performed in person since January 2020, I have been busier than ever giving virtual workshops and making crankie films for all kinds of festivals. Doug Plummer,  videographer and musician, has been essential in making this happen. We have been busy cranking out the crankies!

Festival of American Fiddle Tunes Online - July 2021
I had create fun creating this for the online Fiddle Tunes Festival, 2021. I was given permission to use recordings from their concert archives of over 40 years. (My first fiddle tunes fest was in 1980.) Cinematographer Doug Plummer filmed and put it all together during the HOTTEST day on record in Seattle, it was 108! We filmed at Doug's house, he had central AC so I survived. Enjoy!
Festival du Bois - Online Festival - 2021
Beside adding miniatures, I love to use old 78s, on a hand-cranked gramophone, for the audio. Many thanks to Doug Plummer for filming and editing. Festival du Bois is a celebration of all things French and takes place in March in Coquitlam,(Maillardville) British Columba.