LAWRENCE — If you give Donald Chapelle a block of ice, he can create anything: Dogs, whales, houses, seaweed, people, you name it.
Doing business as Brilliant Ice Sculptures, his work has been featured in First Night Boston for more than 20 years. This year his creations included “Nice Puppy,” displayed at 840 Boylston St. in Boston, near the Prudential Building.
The piece includes a huge canine with a pink spiked collar and a dog house. He has also created a sculpture of Kitovi, a fur seal pup that was born at the New England Aquarium in August.
The work includes the seal’s mother, Ursula, and her father, Isaac.
Chapelle, 55, a North Andover resident who works out of his shop on North Canal Street in Lawrence, said he has been carving blocks of ice into practically everything one can think of for 35 years.
It started as a way of beating back boredom, he said. While working at the Holiday Inn in Springfield, he said, he would make ice sculptures during the evening.
“It was a creative outlet,” he said.
While pursuing his 33-year career as a chef, he kept using his chisels and other tools on ice. The old saying, “practice makes perfect,” seems to apply in Chapelle’s case.
For example, “Whale Pods,” an ice sculpture he created for First Night 1994, was very authentic in appearance. One can easily identify in a photo of the work five life-size humpback whales, along with schools of fish, dolphins and seaweed.
Chapelle is a large-scale artist. In creating “Whale Pods,” for instance, he used 110 blocks of ice, weighing a total of 11 tons. The piece was 32 feet tall and 52 feet wide.
Chapelle did very well in the culinary profession, working as executive chef at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and holding similar positions at the 5-star Hilton International hotels in Geneva and Vienna.