I'm happy to report I found some filigree solder online, so here is the result from my first experiments with the new concoction . It worked quite well, but it's different from the handmade solder I learned to cook up previously using silver, copper, bronze and zinc. Far less of the purchased solder is needed to fuse the filigree to the frame, so I overloaded it every so often, but it burned away nicely.
I am in love with this stone. I purchased it from our friendly "Opal Guy" (Gene) who mines the opals in Australia and brings them to our school for us to choose from. When he shows up and lays all all of his gorgeous stones on the table, no one can get any work done. We obviously buy a substantial amount from him because he keeps coming back...and that's a good thing!
Now I need to get to work on my copper bowl. In the new class I started this week, we are learning how to turn a flat piece of metal (copper first, then sterling silver) and pound it, little by little, into the shape of a bowl. The teacher, Julia Woodman, is wonderful. She's kindhearted, patient and considerate. I can tell already I am going to thorougly enjoy learning from her.