What is A crankie?


A Crankie is a form of storytelling. A narrative or song is illustrated across a long scroll of paper which is rolled up and attached to two dowels. The dowels are fastened inside of a box frame and a hand crank, hence the name Crankie, is used to spin the dowels which unfurls the story across an open viewing area in the frame.

My first experience seeing a Crankie was watching Anna & Elizabeth, two thoughtful and talented Old Time musicians, share a ballad Crankie that they had illustrated. I was mesmerized by the way the scenes emerged across the backlit screen and how the paper crinkled as the cranks spun the dowels. It occurred to me that in an era where the pace of daily life leaves little space for contemplation, this art form gifts us the opportunity to slow down, get lost in time, and move beyond ourselves.

This inspired me to create a Crankie of my own so I set out to turn a tale about a girl and a fox that I crafted for a group of children into a Crankie. As I started, it dawned on me that it would take a long time to complete the project myself so I enlisted the help of friends. It became a beautiful collage of illustrations and made me realized what a terrific medium Crankies are for fostering community.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to share this medium in workshops with kids. The videos above are a sample of some of their beautiful Art. If you are interested in hosting a Crankie workshop at your school or camp please reach out to me via my contact page for further details.

To find out more about Crankies and to see the work of other amazing Artists, visit www.thecrankiefactory.com.