In Georgia’s booming film industry, where does a busy prop master find an authentic South American blowgun? Or a prayer container from Afghanistan? Or pottery from Morocco?
They go to Touchstone Props in Sandy Springs where owner Ronnie Kaplan rents and sells antiques, folk art, jewelry, textiles and a diverse array of handcrafted objects from around the world.
“For more than 35 years I’ve imported hand crafted items from small communities in Central and South America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa,” says Ronnie. “I have great respect for the people who still produce products by hand using locally sourced materials. Most of them live in remote areas and sell through cooperatives that I support.”
Ronnie opened her store, Folk Art Imports (now Touchstone Collection), in 1986 on Bennett Street in Atlanta, a hot spot for antique stores. She made her first connections to people in the film industry on Bennett Street. She was excited to find a new market for her collection and started Touchstone Props. Now Ronnie runs her businesses from a showroom in Sandy Springs.
In the movie “Zombieland,” Woody Harrelson’s character wore necklaces from Touchstone Props. One necklace was an Afghanistan prayer container and the other was made of Tibetan stone set in silver.
For the TV series, “Lovecraft Country,” Ronnie provided an array of items from the South American Arawak culture and African cultures including blowguns, baskets and textiles. She also designs and creates replicas. She created four elaborate head dresses, feather earrings and armbands for “Lovecraft Country” based on the original Arawak items.
Ronnie is also a resource for the film industry with the knowledge she can provide of cultures around the world. Recently, a prop master needed a replica of a sword. They sent Ronnie a photo. She recognized it was from Toledo, Spain, and they were able to get an authentic copy made.
“We live in a global community. Set decorators, prop masters and costume designers can’t fake the cultures they’re portraying, they’ll be found out,” says Ronnie. “The film industry is a boon to my business and to the craftsmen who provide these culturally authentic items.”
Items from Touchstone Props have been featured in productions such as “Furious 7;” “The Fate of the Furious;” “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri;” and the TV series “Constantine” and “Necessary Roughness.”