What's a crankie?

A crankie is an old storytelling art form, popular in the 19th century.   Start with a long illustrated scroll that is wound onto two spools. The spools are loaded into a box which has a viewing screen. Then the scroll is hand-cranked while the story is told, or a tune is played or a song is sung.  They are pure magic!

 Sue, along with Podorythmie, is one of the groups reviving this old tradition.  To learn more about crankies, visit Sue's website The Crankie Factory.

Crankie Workshops

We have been giving crankie workshops at various festivals. The crankies have been a big hit with both children and adults. No art skills necessary! Participant use rubber stamps to illustrate the scroll. We had to share this one made by 10 year old Liam at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Enjoy!

This is the Pete Seagull crankie! Getting ready for two crankie shows and two crankie workshops at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Pete Seagull is the festival mascot. Looking forward to this, July 15 and 16, 2017.

Crankie Fest @ NW Folklife Festival, 2016

Podorythmie closed the Crankie Fest at the NW Folklife Festival, May 28th, 2016. Here are a few snippets of our rehearsal along with Squirrel Butter (Charmaine Slaven and Charlie Beck) and Holler and Glen (Melanie Brauner and Kevin Auld) Great fun!!

Photo by Doug Plummer

Podorythmie has been performing crankies since 2011 and have about a dozen different crankies in their repertoire.  Sue creates the scrolls. Julia does the cranking during the performances and Prairie has taken on the shadow puppetry.  We've performed at house concerts, schools, farmer's markets, crankie festivals and hockey bars!


Valse des Sucres, also known as the Good Neighbor Waltz was composed by John Arcand. The images are of maple sugaring season in Quebec: gathering the maple sap, sugar shacks going night and day followed by celebrations of music, dance and of course, enjoying maple syrup!


Photo by Doug Plummer

Valse des Poeles or Waltz of the Stoves. The beautiful waltz was composed by Simon Riopel of Quebec. It is a celebration of winter activities.  The scroll is made from  lace, fabric and felt hand-stitched to felt.

This is Podorythmie's first crankie using shadow puppetry.  It was recorded December 2013 at the home of Devon and Dejah Leger at the monthly Quebecois session. Watch the video below!

A crankie show at one of numerous community events. This is a block party at the home of Doug Plummer and Robin Shapiro. Panoramic stitched photo by Doug Plummer.

Occasionally, the crankies make it outdoors for some street performances. Photo by Doug Plummer

This crankie scroll is made from torn tissue paper and black Tyvek images glued to a white Tyvek and then back lit. This was inspired by the crankies of Katherine Fahey of Baltimore who pioneered the use of Tyvek in this art form. katherinefahey.com