Working on Our First Crankie

Recently we’ve gotten super inspired by crankies – and so we built our own crankie box, and began work on the production of the 1st annual Ithaca Crankie Cabaret.

A crankie is like a small wooden theater, with a scrollable paper story. We helped Edith, one of the artists we’re working with, build this one:

This is before any decorations (although we did add the fun spoons for kicks) and before you add the paper scroll. For our box, we went for a more widescreen size, and we added doors on the front. Here is what it looks like when you backlight the doors:

Next, I started working on the images. For my crankie, I am using a Tyvek scroll instead of paper. And I am glueing black and white tyvek cut-outs that will be backlit, as well as using shadow puppets for action. Here is a scene:

I am also using colorful cellophane pieces to add color to some scenes like this one:

This is just one of the many ways artists can use crankies. You can just draw or paint on it, you can use paper, quilted fabric, projection, add music, storytelling, other kinds of puppetry and much more.

We can’t wait to share what the group of artists we’re working with have come up with. Hope you can make it to our cabaret on Nov 3 and 4th of 2017!


Puppetry can be inspired by many different art forms – visual, dance, circus, story-telling and so much more. On my way, I have come across so many amazing performers that I keep in mind as I make new art.

Check out my tumblr page of inspiring creations here.

Meanwhile, here are a few examples I hope you enjoy:

Ithaca Parade June 2 2017

We’ll be at the parade this June 2nd with Ithaca Is Puppets – a group of puppeteers, puppet-makers and puppet-lovers.  You can participate by making your own puppet and sending us a pic/video to share on the Art Club site. We’ll be giving out the templates at the parade and you’ll be able to print your own at home, too. Check it out here:

One to One Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ithaca & Tompkins County

From One to One Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ithaca & Tompkins County:

“Yesterday our kids at Northside had some very special visitors –LilySilly Puppets came to do a show and workshop! The kids watched the performance, then got to take a look behind the scenes, and make some puppets of their own…THANK YOU to Lily and Matt — it was such a treat to have you. Thanks also to Ithaca College Big Brothers, Big Sisters for an outstanding volunteer turn out!”