I'm not sure you can do this the way you have set it up.
Text Variables are considered a single character, so when they get long, they just squish.
However, I have created what I think you would want by making a single text frame with three lines.
The first and last lines hold the ornament.
The middle line holder the page number code, an em dash, and the variable.
However, rules above and below that line of text that are set to the width of the text.
So as the variable changes width, the rules expand or contract.
I can't tell if the want the ornament centered or flush left.
But if you want, email me at Sandee at sign mac dot com
and I'll send you the ID file so you can see what I did.
I just saw that you might want the rules to extend horizontally a little bit around the text as shown in your first sample.
That can be done by varying the Left and Right indents of the rules once they are set to the width of the text column.
(Golly gee, I haven't had to teach this stuff in years. It's so much fun to do it again.)
I'm having trouble making the email to you go. I would love to see what you did. I do want the ornament centered over the unit, but the folio flush left.
I'm going to mess about with the auto width feature to see what's the problem too. I've used variable text for headers before but not coupled with auto size boxes.
Would you mind sending me the file? sue_campbell at macdotcom
Ok. So I see now. It that auto size doesn't work with a text variable at all. Bummer. Big bummer.
It works fine with other text, but like you said it reats variable text like it's just one character. Arrgh.
Why do you need autoresize on the master page? Make the text frame at maximum size you might need it. It will be invisible any way.
Well, I need for the reasons stated above along with visual examples. The problem is the centered ornament, the rules and that variables won't work with auto size.
Okay. So this is the workaround I came up with it's definitely not what I wanted but as close as I can figure out how to get it sorta like I wanted. The text is still a running header variable. I ditched auto size since that does not work with a variable text item. I went with two boxes one for the folio and ornament, with the ornament stationery centered on the folio. The text box for the variable running header is just longer than I think I need and the text is set with text width rules and an inset. Set flush left. I simply butted the rules in each text box. This will work even tho it's not my preferred design.