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.


Baltimore Crankie Fest, Jan. 6-8, 2023

The Baltimore Crankie Festival, the largest of its kind in the country, works with artists to showcase crankies from Baltimore and beyond! For the 2023 fest, you can attend in person OR watch online. Since I live 4,000 miles away in Seattle, I am delighted to be able to watch online - yay!🙂   Here's the link for tickets and more info.

Theatre Morieux - a 19th century time capsule

A poster from 1900 showing a variety of their programs.

Every decade or so, someone discovers an old moving panorama which is very exciting.  But this discovery is truly epic. Not only were four moving panoramas discovered, but a whole warehouse of accompanying mechanical marionettes, magic lantern slides, projectors and broadsides that went along with the traveling show.

The story begins in 2006, when early visual media expert Thomas Wynant was at a flea market in Ghent. He spotted some drawings of a moving panorama and so inquired. He discovered they were from the Théâtre Morieux de Paris and there was more, much more!  He contacted moving panorama historian Erkki Huhtamo who also became involved in studying and documenting the artifacts. Much of the collection was purchased by Jean-Paul Favand and resides at Musee des Arts Forains in Paris.

Read about this amazing find in the article Researching the history of fairgrounds is detective work.


Do you need crankie inspiration?  Click on the WATCH A CRANKIE page!  There you will find the ONLINE CRANKIE FEST


From Baltimore, MD, The Naftule Crankie
This crankie has it all. 10 out of 10 on the crankie magic scale! It was created by Tine Kindermann, script by Josh Kohn with music and sound design by Michael Winograd. Music from the repertoire of Naftule Brandwein. Performed with Ira Temple on accordion and puppeteered by Emily Schubert on 8/22/22. Audio/Video/Lights by Natasha Tylea. Recorded live at the 8th Baltimore Crankie Festival produced by Creative Alliance 2022.
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 Puerto Rico, Deborah Hunt/Mask Hunt
Deborah Hunt was one of the first crankie artists I saw when I started out 11 years ago. She is a master in so many ways, but one that stands out is that she creates costumes and masks is that are part of the crankie story. Check out her You Tube channell - Deborah Hunt/Mask Hunt.


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!

Make a Matchbox Crankie
I am having a good time making little videos on Tik Tok. You can find me at SueTruman411.


This combined peepshow / moving panorama viewer in the form of the Eiffel Tower is 19cm tall and 10cm wide. There is a lens on the top and the panorama roll is controlled by the knobs at the base.

The term "cranky" or "crankie"  was coined in the 1960s by Peter Schumann of the  Bread and Puppet Theatre.  Before that, they were most often called moving panoramas among many other names. 

Professor Erkki Huhtamo, moving panorama historian and collector, has spent the last 20 years raising awareness of this forgotten art form. Click on the link below to see a few examples of his extensive collection including this very unusual combination peepshow/moving panorama in the shape of the Eiffel Tower. 

See 19th and early 20th century examples from the collection of Professor Erkki Huhtamo. 

This is my copy. Coffee stained + dog-eared = well-used!

If you are interested in learning about the history of this forgotten art form, Illusions in Motion, written by Profesor Erkki Huhtamo is an excellent resource. Click on this link to find out more.  Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles 

Also, check out the HISTORY SECTION of this website with over 30 pages of 19th century moving panorama history. 


from top left going clockwise: Anna & Elizabeth, Katherine Fahey, Peter Schumann, Dmitri Carter.

This section names just a few of the crankie artists who came before me, mentored me and/or inspired me.  I wish I had the space to include everyone. 

Anna & Elizabeth

Katherine Fahey

Dmitri Carter

Peter Schumann

More artists - A-K

More artists - L-Z