Creativity: Why the spider would do well to stay in his parlour

YOU CAN dip them in ink and you can cover them with chocolate. Dead or alive, spiders have inspired a rare wealth of suggestions. Here is our classification:

Ink-dippers and so on: To forge a preliminary sketch for Jackson Pollock masterpiece (D M Guest, who claims knowledge of a chap who did exactly that and was severely admonished by the RSPCA). Used by overworked junior doctors to write prescriptions or, with coloured paints instead of ink, to make original wallpaper designs (David Godfrey). Using emulsion paint for that marbling effect 'so prized in homes of note,' (Paul McHugh). Apropos junior doctors, John Cornwall suggests simply squashing the spider to provide the necessary signature at the foot of the prescription.

Decorative: Glued above eyes to make expressive and animated eyebrows (D Godfrey); artificial pubic hair for the recently appendectomied (S Cockerill); hung by their own threads round the brims of Australian hats as an improvement on corks through their ability to eat, and not merely deter, flies (Mollie Caird); aid to creating stage sets for gothic drama (J Cornwall); knit together legs of hundreds to make striking crochet-style jacket (Steph and Paul); dip in luminous paint and allow to roam bedroom walls at night for that authentic, speeded-up, starlight effect (P McHugh); for flying spiders wall decoration.

At the pub: When called away, put dead spider in your glass to stop others drinking it (A Jeremy Shapiro).

About the home: Suspended by its own thread as a drying rack for small garments (John Fountain); device for winding four skeins of wool at once (James McLaren); upside-down as toast-racks (Alexandra Harley, also suggested by A J Shapiro); for dancing 32-some reels (Fiona and John Earle); fitted with miniature transmitters as a way of finding your bath if you've lost it (Dougal Hutchison, who also recommends tarantulas as good alternatives to Yorkshire terriers: 'same size, about as hairy, as pleasant company and twice as many legs'). 'All my spiders,' says Imogen Mottram, are well house-trained to clean the bath and down the plughole after they have finished using it.' She also suggests that particularly bright spiders may be trained to wash your back.

Security: Fitted with micro-cameras to film people taking too many baths during periods of drought (D Godfrey); to get rid of Miss Muffet (John Cornwall).

Medical: Nature's remedy for a swallowed fly (J Cornwall); use legs as organic dental floss (Alexandra Harley).

Humanitarian: Air-sea rescue for fly in soup (S Cockerill).

Educational: Trained to give writing lessons to the left-handed (Paul and Steph Dibden); cuddly toys for young octopi (J McLaren).

Gastronomic: lightly fried in sesame oil on a tossed salad of Webbs lettuce (Steph and Paul not-Dibden); pin dead ones to the tops of tomatoes that have lost their dead-spider bits, or pull legs off, marinate in alcohol and use as sultana substitute (David Nicholls). Covered in chocolate and placed in boxes of sweets as slimming aid. (D Hutchison).

Sporting: Attach dead spider with double-sided tape to the waistband of tennis shorts, using curled legs as holder for server's ball (A J Shapiro).

Finally, Paul McHugh writes: 'It is well known that a bunch of monkeys with a typewriter will, in time, produce the works of Shakespeare. I have discovered that seven or eight inky-footed spiders can produce the entire works of Jeffrey Archer in just over half an hour.' He has a Tippex spider on stand-by, in case they accidentally cross the boundary into literature.

The complete works of Jeffrey Archer are, strangely enough, next week's object. In the meantime, you might like to think about unusual things to do with ear lobes or navels. All ideas to: Creativity, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.