Sanders was born into the industrious pottery scene of New Waterford, Ohio in 1909. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Ohio State University in 1932 and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts in 1933. While he was a graduate student, Sanders became the assistant of Arthur Eugene Baggs, a significant contributor to the development of American studio pottery in the early 20th century. Sanders continued to teach ceramics at Ohio State University, as well as working with Edgar Littlefield and Carlton Atherton to broaden his scope of ceramic knowledge. After serving in the United States Military during World War II, Herbert returned to the U.S. and became an instructor, and later director, of the School for American Craftsmen at Alfred University, New York in 1946. In 1948, Sanders used his G.I. Bill to become the first American to receive a PhD. for ceramics. He taught at San Jose State 1959-1974 and spent the remainder of his career educating aspiring young potters and developing crystalline glazes, for which he has become known for.