The one I made with Mama Rhu

At my first cake competition, I wandered around the Excel centre in total awe of most of the entries. There was one exhibit in particular which stood out for me – a girl in a poodle skirt sitting on a diner stool. I had never seen anything like it and it’s still one of my all-time favourites. When I was making the diner cake, I wished I had the skills to make a little mini-me version of her to sit at the counter and eat the teeny tiny slice of cherry pie at three minutes to 4 in the morning. She just looked like that kind of girl.

50's diner girl

Figure by Rhu Strand (


Anyhow, fast-forward a few months to a catch up session I have having with my profile on Cakes Décor. I was having a quick stalk look at who has made comments on my work and I came across one from Rhu Strand. “Who was she?” I wondered…

A couple of clicks later and I was doing a little happy dance with my dogs in the living room. Rhu Strand created the poodle skirt/diner girl! And she had said something nice about my work! It’s always a boost to have anyone say something about your cakes, but when it’s someone whose work your admire, that kind of makes your day.

At the time I was also in the middle of one of my daily cake chats with cake friend Ms Tilly. We had decided we were going to do another decorating course together this year but were still humming and hawing about where to go and what to learn. It had been weeks of indecision.

A little more stalking looking, and we realised that Mama Rhu offered classes and her “Pip” standing figure workshop covered several elements and techniques from our wish list of things we wanted to learn. We were sold & happily both of us could be accommodated in the same course. By the way, “Pip” is the name that she gave that particular figure. Poodle skirt / diner girl goes by the name of Tabby.

Rhu told us that the Harajuku girls were the inspiration for her “Pip” figure. Harajuku is one of the urban fashion districts in Japan and the girls are known for wearing outlandishly frilly costumes in a number of different styles. They can be quite contentious, but I think they are a visual feast of fashion and colour. You can read up a little more about them here:

The course took place in Rhu’s home kitchen in Hampshire which was a relaxed and informal – a great stress-free way to learn. The class was small (4 participants) so there was lots of personal tuition. I think smaller classes are the way to go as you can get a really close up view of the demo part.

Day 1 covered the structural elements of making a standing figure along with the legs & head structure. It feels like there is more hardware in this baby than in a B&Q superstore. I reckon the box could fall over in transit and she would probably be OK.

Day two was all about the detail – it took all morning just to make her eyes and paint her face. The afternoon session was a little like dress making-101 because we had to make her clothes using hand cut patterns. The race to the finish on Sunday evening was all about her beautiful hair and a few final touches.

sugar paste standing figure

I’m very pleased with my girl, who I have named Evangeline (meaning the bearer of good news). I felt she needed a somewhat angelic name as she was certainly the most innocent looking figure in the class. The others were definitely a little more knowing!


It’s difficult to get a sense of her scale. She stands around 45cm tall – hence the need for structural support.  The base she is standing on is 27cm wide.


I’m not posting photos of the class or stages of build as it gives away some of the structural secrets, and these are not mine to share.  If you are interested in learning about this kind of thing, you should consider taking a course.  Hands on experience and tuition is fantastic if you can access it. Details about Rhu’s courses can be found here: