Team Bunny Minions Hops in Victory in Jewelry-Making Race


(L-R) Chiao Ju Lee, Symposium trophy presenter, Ailing Yin and Muda “Da Da” Yu. Photo courtesy of Ailing Yin.

You don’t have to be a fast runner to compete in the Saw, File and Solder Sprint. But you do need to have strong metalwork skills and be comfortable whipping up a piece of jewelry in front of a crowd while dressed in a costume. The fun and quirky “relay race” is a highlight of the annual Yuma Symposium, an event that draws renowned and emerging artists to the Arizona desert every winter to learn, create and connect with each other. During the race, each three-person team works as quickly as possible to make a ring that will fit on one member’s finger.

Earlier this year, Academy of Art University School of Jewelry & Metal Arts students and friends Chiao Ju Lee, Ailing Yin and Muda “Da Da” Yu drove to Yuma to attend the symposium and compete in their first Saw, File and Solder Sprint. In a field of 21 teams, the friends proved they were up to the challenge. Their team—the Bunny Minions—made a ring in just three minutes and 21 seconds, a feat that earned them a third place trophy. 

“All of us felt nerves during the competition because the passionate announcer and audience kept cheering around us,” admitted Yin, who convinced Lee and Yu to enter the sprint with her. “Usually, we work in a silent environment. Seeing all of the costumes was really fun—it was like Halloween. Some of them were amazing.”  

For Yu, the most challenging part of the race was learning all of the rules related to it in a short amount of time. He appreciated School of Jewelry & Metal Arts Executive Director Charlene Modena for making sure he and his teammates understood the regulations before they headed to Yuma.

“We enjoyed the atmosphere of the competition,” said Yu. “It was my first time attending the Yuma Symposium, so everything was really fresh to me and my teammates. There were so many other experienced artists in the relay and everyone just wanted to do their best.”

While the Bunny Minions didn’t have to do any grueling physical training to prepare for the Saw, File and Solder Sprint, they did spend a lot of time practicing their individual roles and working together before the big day. Lee was responsible for the first leg of the relay, carving the piece of metal that would eventually become a piece of jewelry. Yu then bent and polished the metal, transforming it into a ring shape. He handed it off to Yin for the soldering that would complete the ring and the race.

In addition to competing in the relay, the teammates participated in the Yuma Symposium’s popular pin exchange, attended educational presentations, perused exhibits, and mingled with other students and artists.  

“The most exciting thing for me was the demonstrations given by internationally recognized artists,” stated Yin. “I had hoped I would learn a lot from them, and I did. Doing the competition and going to the symposium also gave me the chance to get to know other young artists.”

After their successful experience at the symposium, Yin and her teammates are eager to return to Yuma to defend their title at next year’s Saw, File and Solder Sprint. Yin said she would also love to participate in other similar events. 

“I’m very interested in other events like this because I know I’ll learn a lot and meet many fantastic artist at them,” she remarked.



(L–R) Ailing Yin, Chiao Ju Lee and School of Jewelry & Metal Arts Director Charlene Modena. Photo courtesy of Ailing Yin.


The Bunny Minions’ Sprint trophies. Photo courtesy of Ailing Yin.