Make a Crankie!

Hello Everyone! Thinking about making a crankie?  You can do it!!  Here is some information to get you started. Best of luck to you!❤

Behind the Scenes

This is Dejah Leger's box made by Louis Leger.

Have you wondered what a crankie looks like from inside the box?  I did when I was starting out. This page is a collection of short videos from "behind the scenes". View the videos here.

Make a Crankie Box

Louis and Dejah Leger contributed instructions and sketches for the box.

The crankie box can be any size from very small (match box size)  to very large (taking up a whole stage). There is no standard size.   This page has instructions for making a crankie box that will hold an 18" high scroll. Many thanks to Louis and Dejah Leger for providing the plans and pictures of their crankie box.  View it here.

If you are interested in seeing creative variations, visit the Gallery of Unusual Crankie Boxes!

Material Choices for the Crankie Scroll

Paper mosiac on rice paper by Ellen Gozian.

Pen and ink, watercolors, papercut silhouettes, fabric applique... the possibilities are endless.  In fact, there are so many options I needed to divide them up into two pages:

Designing the Crankie Scroll

Valeska Populoh planned her crankie out on a miniature scroll that cranked before making the big one.

This section contains questions I have received from new crankie artists.   I have shared some things that helped me in the beginning and I will be adding other crankie artist's information too. View it here.

Illuminating the Box

I use an inexpensive clamplight to illuminate the box. They are available at any hardware store.

This section will give you some ideas of lighting the box. Crankies do not have to be back lit, but it's great fun to do so.   View the section here.

Using Shadow Puppets with Moving Scenery

Adding shadow puppetry can make your crankie story come alive, espcially if it contains action scenes. Get started here!

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Contents of my Crankie Bag - be prepared!

Frequently asked questions and stories from the field. Read it here.

Early "How To" Articles

As a crankie artist, I LOVE to read the old "how to" articles, written for children but applicable to the crankie artist today. Typical for this era, early 20th century, the articles are written for boys.

How to Make a Moving Panorama Show - 1910 from the Children's Encyclopedia

A (Moving) Panorama - 1930, excerpt from The Boy Showman

Moving Picture Toy for Children from The Boy Mechanic


If you are interested in the history of moving panoramas, check out The Crankie Factory's section on History.

Make a Cardboard Crankie with Justin DuPont
This fabulous workshop was given on Feb. 13th, 2021 as part of the first ever Festival of Miniature Crankies, sponsored by the Western Massachusetts Puppetry Guild. Thank you Justin!
How to Make a Shoe Box Crankie
From Ireland, Vivienne Byrne made this very nice "how to" video - enjoy!

This page was created 2013, updated 2021. Sue Truman ❤