Anna Roberts-Gevalt and  Elizabeth LaPrelle have been experimenting with ways to express traditional Appalachian culture through the folk arts. And they’ve found their muse with the old-fashioned “Crankies”. These are kind of like hand-made movies, but rather than film, they’re made with felt and cloth. Together, Anna & Elizabeth sew and assemble a long roll of felt covered with characters and artwork that depict a traditional story or ballad.

They’ll load this roll into a wooden viewer, and using a hand crank, the felt roll scrolls by in front of a window on the box. When they place a light behind the window, the light shines through the scroll and lights it up from behind. It’s so entrancing to watch that it’s easy to lose sight of what we’re seeing.  Each “frame” is comprised of intricate paper cut-outs attached to a felt cloth.

Crankies aren’t very common these days, but they used to be a form of old-fashioned movies that spread in New England and the South. Anna Roberts-Gevalt happened on the Crankies in her home state of Vermont, and there’s actually a Crankie festival out there. Both Anna and Elizabeth have spent so much time exploring the traditions of the Appalachian Mountains, that the Crankies have become one of their preferred ways to spread their knowledge.

Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle


One Response to “Crankies”

  1. Office love can be a hell…….so some says | Men's Night Out! Says:

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